ENOLA -- Players on the Keystone Assault women's full contact football team still love to hit, even though studies show playing football may increase the risk of traumatic brain injuries.
Women are even more susceptible, though research hasn't determined why.
The pounding of the pads in practice -- not to mention winning games -- is what the ladies on the Harrisburg-based Keystone Assault of the Women's Football Alliance live for.
"It's fun to hit people, and not get in trouble for it," joked first-year linebacker Stephanie Watts, a native of Lancaster County.
But how much of a price will these players pay in the future?
In sports like boxing and football, traumatic brain injury has been linked to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Symptoms include memory loss, impulse control problems, and depression.
In patients with CTE, an abnormal protein called tau damages areas responsible for thinking, judgment, emotion, and personality.
In the recent study, first reported by CBS News' Dr. Jonathan LaPook, researchers compared the brains of athletes with known CTE with the brains of four Iraq-Afghan veterans who survived IED explosions or multiple concussions.
"It's quite striking and in many ways the pathology is indistinguishable to the two groups, whether you had a repeated concussion or whether you had the blast exposure, you can't really see the difference," said Dr. Lee Goldstein, a lead author of the study.
The four veterans all developed typical symptoms of CTE and died prematurely several years later.
"A blast injury which is causing the same sort of bobbleheaded effect - only happening over milliseconds instead of seconds - is actually the same injury. It's just happening in a different situation," said neurologist Dr. Ann McKee, a co-author of the study.
In football, players on the Assault are aware of the situation.
"These women can hit," explained defensive back and wide receiver Jess Weir. "You take a helmet-to-helmet blow and it definitely rings your bell."
Weir bought her own helmet, a more expensive model with extra cushion to absorb the impact of hitting another player -- or being hit by another player.
"We haven't had any concussions (this year)," said head coach John Harris, who has the Assault in first place in its division with a 4-1 record in his first season.
But Keystone players have suffered concussions in the past, however.
Football has some simple guidelines: be prepared; be in position and be ready to hit -- all signs of a great football player, man or woman.
Each member of the Assault knows the risk involved with playing full-contact football. "There's always a risk of getting hurt," said Watts.
"But there's risk with everything in life."