SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — How many times do young players hit their heads while playing football?

It's a crucial question to understand potential harm they face, and crucial to understand how football could perhaps be practiced and played more safely. But there hasn't been a lot of data to answers these concerns.

Enter Sanford Research, part of health system Sanford Health. A research team there followed a youth football team for eight seasons, using technology to track head impacts, and the results they found provided a powerful suggestion about what could reduce the number of head hits young players face while playing football.

In the latest episode of The Health Variant podcast, host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg talks with Dr. Thayne Munce of Sanford Research. Munce is an exercise physiologist, sports scientist and associate director of the Sanford Sports Science Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was the lead researcher on the newly published study.

Munce describe what team he followed, the technology he used and what surprised him about the research results. For more on the research, read more about the research here.

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"The Health Variant" digs into health topics important to the region, such as fitness, COVID-19, cannabis and telehealth, introduces listeners to must-know places and people and offers behind-the-scenes reporting.

NewsMD is a Forum Communications brand focusing on health and health care reporting, primarily in the Upper Midwest, including coverage of industry news, research, trends, technology, economic and policy issues.

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For comments or podcast episode topic suggestions, contact Fugleberg at or on Twitter: @jayfug.