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Monday, July 15, 2024

Pickleball Injuries Could Cost U.S. Nearly $400 Million Per Year

  • Healthcare companies are seeing rising costs for hip replacements, knee surgeries, & other elective procedures.
  • UBS estimated that pickleball injuries have cost Americans $377 million this year.
UBS estimates that pickleball injuries have cost Americans $377 million this year.
Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

A new theory from investment banking company UBG Group AG links rising healthcare costs to injuries sustained by elderly people playing pickleball. 

Pickleball injuries in 2023 have driven $377 million in estimated medical costs, according to UBS’s findings shared with Bloomberg. UBS was driven to examine pickleball injuries because shares in big health insurance companies fell earlier this month after UnitedHealth Group Inc. said healthcare utilization rates were up amid a rising pace of hip replacements, knee surgeries, and other elective procedures.

UBS estimates that seniors make up about a third of “core players” who play pickleball at least eight times per year. Pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport, is expected to see a 150% jump in players this year to 22.3 million, per the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

Pickleball players go to emergency departments at a rate of about 0.27%, per UBS’s analysis of pickleball injury studies. The majority of injuries occur among those 60 and older. Strains, sprains, and fractures are the most common injuries, with the wrist and lower leg areas the most likely to be injured. 

“In total, we estimate 67k ED visits, 366k outpatient visits, 8.8k outpatient surgeries, 4.7k hospitalizations, and 20k post-acute episodes,” UBS wrote, per Bloomberg. “All said, we estimate $377 mn of medical costs related to pickleball, of which $302 mn (80%) is attributable to the outpatient setting and $75 mn (20%) is attributable to the inpatient setting.”

Pickleball’s popularity has led to ESPN and CBS signing broadcast deals with the Association of Pickleball Professionals, while Amazon is streaming the Professional Pickleball Association Tour. Temporary pickleball courts are also being added to MLB ballparks for the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and San Diego Padres.

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