More than half of platform tennis players get hurt, survey says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Platform tennis is one of the fastest growing sports in the Chicago area. It is also one of the most injury-prone, according to a new national survey, which sent serious warnings to weekend warriors who can't get enough of the game.

Once just an East Coast sport, dozens of odd-looking, smaller tennis courts have popped up in Chicago and the suburbs.

"It's fast moving. It's a good calorie burn," said Patti Finn, who lives in southwest suburban Burr Ridge.

"It's really popular for people in their middle ages or older," said Eric Pitcher, who lives in nearby Hinsdale.

Platform tennis is played outdoors during cold weather on heated, raised platforms.

"I would walk the dog at the park see these knuckle heads play tennis in a chicken coop. I thought, 'They're nuts!'" Finn said.

But Finn was soon hooked on the sport. Along with platform tennis' growing popularity, doctors also noticed a trend: end of season injuries.

"There's really no data on injuries or what happens to people. We should figure out what's coming in here and help people prevent these injuries," said Dr. Jeremy Alland, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center.

Researchers at Midwest Orthopaedics just finished their first-ever survey of platform tennis injuries and found something surprising. What looks like a relatively simple game carries one of the highest sports injury rates. About 66 percent of players have sustained an injury. About 55 percent of players sustained more than one injury.

"The muscles are colder. They're not stretched out. Oftentimes, people aren't warming up. Next thing you know, you have an injury," Alland said.

"At the end of January, I tore my meniscus. Five weeks later, I had a hamstring tear. The whole time, I played with tennis elbow," Finn said.

Doctors also said to be sure to wear proper safety gear.

"I wear goggles, all the time. I had a retina that was partially detached once from my eye getting hit with the ball," Pitcher said.

"I've stayed active my whole life so I could continue to be active and I can't right now. So I'm hoping to get it back," Finn said.

Finn just started physical therapy. She said she hopes to play again in 8-10 weeks.
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