By Shawn Gilley
Provided by Jim Ritter of Loyola University Medical Center
Oak Park resident Dr. Neeru Jayanthi is director of the first Tennis Medicine program in metropolitan Chicago. Dr. Jayanthi, a board-certified sports medicine physician at Loyola, has studied tennis injuries as a player, coach, physician and researcher. Dr. Jayanthi plays tennis at the highest amateur levels.
Loyola University Health System has launched one of the nation's first Tennis Medicine programs to treat tennis injuries and teach patients injury-prevention techniques.
The Loyola Tennis Medicine program is unique to Chicago, and the only one of its kind in the Midwest.
The program will address tennis players' needs by evaluating and treating injuries with a tennis-specific approach, including any needed rehabilitation, injections or surgery. Patients also will receive selective on-court evaluations or video analyses, coordinated with the patients' tennis teaching professionals.
The program's director is Oak Park resident Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, a board certified sports medicine physician. Jayanthi has studied tennis injuries as a player, coach, physician and researcher. In addition to treating tennis injuries, Jayanthi has developed injury prevention techniques and strength and conditioning programs at several junior training academies.
The Loyola Tennis Medicine program will be offered at the new Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, the Loyola Outpatient Center-Musculoskeletal Care and the Loyola Center for Health, 1211 W. Roosevelt Road in Maywood.
The Tennis Medicine program's web site is www.loyolamedicine.org/tennismedicine
Jayanthi has been a competitive player since childhood, and continues to compete and play tournaments at the highest amateur level. He is chairman of the education committee of the International Society for Tennis Medicine and Science, and has published multiple studies on tennis injuries in young tournament players and adult recreational players. He is a certified tennis teaching professional and tournament physician for the ATP World Tour. Additionally, he belongs to the Oak Park Tennis Center, and taught at the Oak Park Tennis and Fitness Centre during med school in the mid 90s.
"While most tennis injuries are not necessarily severe, they can significantly affect performance," Jayanthi said. "Our goal is to get patients back on the court as soon as possible, and teach them the techniques that will reduce their risk of further injuries and maintain their performance."
Tennis injuries in adults are typically caused by overuse. They include tennis elbow (tendon degeneration of the wrist/forearm muscles), rotator cuff disorders, lumbar disc disease, meniscus (knee cartilage) tears and arthritis. Junior and competitive players can experience traumatic muscle and ligament injuries, stress fractures of the lumbar spine and overuse injuries of the shoulder, elbow and wrist.
Jayanthi has spoken extensively to parents, teaching professionals and medical specialists on how to treat tennis injuries.
Jayanthi offers tips on how to prevent injuries. For example, grip the racket moderately or lightly, and only on contact; pick the heaviest racket that does not affect swing speed for your style of play and hit flat serves before adding spin. Clay courts are easier on the knees and lowering the racket's string tension is easier on the arms.
Tennis is a great exercise, Jayanthi said. It improves aerobic fitness, lowers body fat, improves cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves bone health.
But playing too much tennis at a young age can increase the risk of injuries. In a recent study of 519 junior tennis players, Jayanthi and colleagues found that youth who played tennis year round were at a higher risk of being injured in tournament play than players who did not specialize.
"Parents, coaches and players should exercise caution if there is a history of prior injury," Jayanthi said. "And parents should consider enrolling their children in multiple sports."
Jayanthi is medical director of primary care sports medicine and an associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.