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Always Aware: March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month

Published On: Mar 02 2014 10:08:25 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 04 2014 04:27:37 PM EST

A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone.

A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone.

At least 1.7-million Americans sustain some type of brain injury each year.

The damage can range from a mild concussion to a severe, life-threatening injury.

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, and 69 News took a closer look so you can be Always Aware.

Hits, checks, sharp skates and a stick; ice hockey can be a rough sport.

"Skates are very sharp," explained player Christopher Croll. "You can get hit from your blind side, not know where people are coming from."

In a sport filled with speed and violence, safety is very important.

"There's been quite an advancement in the type of equipment and gear that we use," Wayne Hasson with the Lehigh Valley Flames shared. "Hockey helmets have improved greatly from the time that I played, also players are wearing mouth guards."

But injuries do still happen.

"Concussions, head injuries, lots of shoulder injuries," said Lehigh Valley Flames Coach Eric Progen.

According to the CDC at least 1.7-million brain injuries occur each year, and out of those, about 75 percent are concussions, an injury that frequently sidelines hockey players.

"I think it's something that's definitely on people's radar," added Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Concussion Specialist Dr. Kyle Klitsch.

He says the injury effects how the brain functions.

"They're typically caused by a blow to the body or the head which causes the brain to shake back and forth inside of the skull, ultimately causing damage to the brain's cells."

Concussions and other brain injuries can happen from a fall, a car crash, even a stroke or other disease.

Most people recover quickly and fully, but for some, symptoms can last for weeks or longer.

It's something everyone, especially those playing contact sports should be aware of.

"It's a serious problem in the community," said Dr. Klitsch. "Many people have been affected by brain injury and it can certainly affect a person's livelihood."

"Any injury to the head is a very serious injury," added Hasson.