Dr. Dawn Comstock, associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health was named one of three inaugural Youth Sports Safety Ambassadors by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). The awards were presented during the Youth Sports Safety Summit in Dallas earlier this month.
The honor recognizes individuals or groups that have made a significant contribution to advancing athletic safety. For the past decade, Dr. Comstock has gathered and analyzed surveillance data to better understand youth sports injuries. The data offers evidence-based analysis rather than ‘emotion-based’ opinions as have previously been the practice in connection to organized youth sports.
At the Summit, Dr. Comstock also shared findings that among high school athletes, girls have longer recovery rates than boys, but that gender differences narrowed at the collegiate level. Also, collegiate athletes in soccer and baseball/softball had longer recovery times than high school athletes, but in basketball, there was no significant difference in recovery time across age groups. She also looked at concussion rates and severities in states that already had implemented guidelines on restricting number of days of full contact practice compared to states that had not.
According to Dr. Comstock, understanding injury patterns such as differences in recovery times or the effect of policy recommendations, as well as other research, supports helping policymakers fine-tune risk minimization and injury prevention recommendations.
Just last spring, Dr. Comstock was one of five experts invited by the White House to meet President Obama and to speak at the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit to address the growing risk of concussions in adolescent sports.