Medical Resources

Welcome to the AAPA Health Page

Published February 3, 2020

The AAPA needs to have a “Health Page” on our website because we players have a right to know, and a need to know, about the risks and benefits of everything we do. And that includes pickleball. So you want to know the potential risks and benefits of a drop vs a drive vs a lob when you’re down 7-0 to Paul and Stevie in a friendly game. Or what about having that 3rd beer after playing four hours straight under the Athens summer sun. Or how to understand your grandchild explaining to you why she changed her major to Art History from pre-med in her senior year at UGA (“So, grandpa, you can support me for another year or two… Maybe grad school? Right?”). And, of course, you better want to know what your new blood pressure medication or heart pill will do for you, and TO you, on and off the court.
We got this far – jobs, promotions, retirement, family stuff, a personal battle with a demon here or there – with a little luck, but mostly through figuring out risks and benefits.
That is what “health” is: determining risks and benefits of solutions to health problems when you’re the doctor or other professional, and taking control of your own healthy life as the person who realizes the problem is their own and had better get solved. Or else bad things happen, more than just losing a point or a game.
So the Health Page will look at the science of the anatomy and physiology of our (aging) bodies to figure out why we have shortness of breath or new onset of back or leg pain. Why does our stamina suck. Why do I need to play on one side of the net or the other at SEC because I can’t see the ball against the background of the darn trees, or against that wall at the Eastside Rec Center. But “health” also means the benefits of pickleball, like: 1) why does my balance seem better when I play more; 2) why do my hips hurt less that day if I dink against Tom Senyitko for 2 or 3 games; 3) why is my mood better, why am I even more loving, for the rest of the day if I can play a few hours in the morning; or even, 4) why can I feel OK about Republicans/Democrats (your choice) if I play doubles with one or another person out there whether we win or lose (but winning is better)?
There is a “science” to all of that: you are releasing endorphins and cannabinoids and you are changing the temperature gradients under your skin for your elastic tissues and your lungs are releasing tumor-necrosis-factor and on and on. But there is a psychology to it as well: you have a sense of control and determination over your own life, and relatedness to others in our family and AAPA ‘tribe’. And there is a spiritual benefit for many above all those other benefits: Peace, Mindfulness, Grace – call it what you will.
So the Health Page will explore all of that.
Now, you don’t have to read this Health Page to enjoy pickleball. Just like you don’t have to learn a drop shot. Or a backhand. Or how to play with a partner to “create a point”. You don’t even have to learn the rules – you can let other people drag you around the court while you make their lives miserable. (Some of us with a background in psych would find your pathology fascinating; narcissists generally are, for a few minutes, anyway).
It’s pretty easy to learn to play the game of pickleball; but it takes love and devotion to our health and to the health of the game to learn How the Game Is Played. And if you don’t learn that, if you don’t pay attention to the risks and benefits, you won’t play for very long. And you might find it hard to find others to play with you.
So a Health Page about pickleball should make it easier for you to play longer, with more satisfaction and success and with fewer injuries and enemies, with your mind and head and heart on a little straighter, while you actually make the world a better place.
And… is there a post you want to write? A stretch or cool-down that works better? A breathing or mindfulness exercise that improves your judgment? A swing thought for one or another emergency on the court? Write the article, or we’ll help you write it, or we’ll help you do the research while you help us write it. We are a community, or we are for many of us, and that’s what friends do for each other.
In a few weeks, we’ll look at medications that you might be taking that could be hindering your game. Then, on to diets, inflammatory problems of folks in our age group, arthritis problems, neurological issues, and on and on.
This is NOT ‘medical advice’, of course. It is information to put you in control of the point, to help you win your game.

Boomers Have A Drug Problem, But Not The Kind You Might Think

Published June 22, 2022

by Laurie Archbald-Pannone February 20, 2020 7.18am EST as printed in THE CONVERSATION
Some boomers are on multiple medications. Combinations of those drugs could have serious side effects.
Baby boomers – that’s anyone born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964 – are 20% of the population, more than 70 million Americans. Decades ago, many in that generation experimented with drugs that were both recreational and illegal. Although boomers may not be using those same drugs today, many are taking medications, often several of them. And even if those drugs are legal, there are still risks of interactions and side effects.
The taking of multiple medications is called polypharmacy, typically four or more at the same time. That includes prescriptions from doctors, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbs. Sometimes, polypharmacy can be dangerous.
I am a geriatrician, one of only 7,500 in the U.S. That’s not nearly enough to accommodate the surging number of elderly boomers who will need medical care over the next two to three decades – or help in dealing with the potential problems of multiple drug use.
Make sure your doctor is regularly reviewing your medication list. Reactions to medications can change over time.

Falling In Love Is OK. Falling in Pickleball…Not So Much

Published February 15, 2020

So, you fell. It’s happened to all of us. No big thing, right? You fell a bazillion times when you were a kid. In your 20’s and 30’s, you fell a couple of times – playing with your kids to prove to them and to yourself that you Still Have IT. Or you had a few too many, or you were running for a plane. No big thing, pretty much. Maybe you and your sweetie and your friends laughed about it. As long as nothing bad happened, so what? And what bad thing could happen when you’re young?
But now, most of us who get out and play pickleball, or even just walk around the courts, are not so young any more. Likely you’re taking a bunch of medications if you are over 65. (Most in our age group take FIVE or more meds each day), and these meds have some nasty side effects, know it or not, such as falling. Your nerves and muscles, your brain and spinal cord, your eyes, are the age on your driver’s license, believe it or not: those body parts aren’t working as well as they once did. You play some PB and your heart bangs away – so, less blood to your brain, and you fall. You lose oxygen because you don’t breathe as well: down you go. You get dehydrated and your blood pressure drops – and YOU DROP. You lose your footing. You get lightheaded. YOU FALL.  No big thing, still?
Nope. Big, Big Thing! People like you and me die from this. Or we can’t play PB any more. Whichever is worse.

Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Published March 20, 2020

Experts explain the just right exercise curve.

So here we are, perfecting our social distancing skills while schools, sports and other forms of social engagement are on indefinite hold, by a dangerous virus named after a (regal) crown. The coronavirus is named because the center envelope is surrounded by small protein spikes called peplomers. These little protein spikes wreak havoc when they attach to lung tissue and hijack otherwise healthy tissue into building a potentially lethal coronavirus army of invaders.
Because the virus settles primarily with the respiratory tract – the nose, mouth and lungs – it is highly contagious when people sneeze, cough or exchange respiratory droplets with others. Despite its importance, social distancing has been a social disappointment for many weekend warriors, team sport athletes, fitness fanatics and sports fans who find camaraderie, biochemical joy from dopamine rushes or stress reduction through regular exercise and sport.
We are both sports scientists who study athlete health and safety. We’re also proud exercise addicts who find the prospect of not exercising almost as disturbing as the prospect of the disease itself.
Here’s how exercise affects the immune system in response to the flu and some practical tips on how much people should (and should not) exercise.

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