NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If your child suffers a concussion while playing contact sport, are there long term consequences?

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports that a new study that finds brain problems can arise even without a concussion.

After playing football most of his life, Austen Rankin decided it was time to hang up his cleats.

“I definitely had some concussions that weren’t diagnosed, probably in middle school, high school, but in college I had one that was diagnosed.”

While concussions are a major concern, a new study suggests every tackle and hit may have an impact on players’ brains, even without a concussion.

1102contact Health Watch: Study Says Every Hit In Contact Sports May Cause Brain Damage

(Credit: CBS2)

The study tested college football players for biomarkers in the blood that detect concussions.

“It was most interesting, and actually a little bit shocking, that they were elevated even before the season started,” Dr. Linda Papa of Orlando Health said.

This means that damage is not only present, but is persisting over time. Cognitive tests on athletes before and after the season found that those who struggled with things like balance and memory had higher levels of the biomarkers in their blood, even if they had never had a concussion.

This suggests that repeated blows to the head may cause injuries that aren’t severe enough to be diagnosed as a concussion, but are still doing damage.

“We know that you’ve had an injury. We have the biomarker level that has shown us that you’ve had an injury. Now we need to help you,” Dr. Papa added.

While steps like better helmets and concussion protocols have helped reduce concussions in recent years, it’s important to recognize that every hit may contribute to long term damage.