From commercial fishing vessel crew members to offshore oil rig workers, all kinds of maritime workers may be at risk of head and brain injuries.  These are some of the most serious injuries, and can leave a person with long lifelong consequences.  A new study confirms yet another one of those long-term effects of a brain injury.  The study suggests that persons with a brain injury have a dramatically increased chance of suffering a stroke within the first three months of injury .

According to the study which has been published in the online issue of Stroke, patients who have a traumatic brain injury have a ten-times increased chance of suffering stroke threes month after the injury.  Among persons with TBI, 2.91% had a stroke within three months compared to just .30% among those with no TBI.

The brain injury risks decreased a little months after the TBI, but continued to remain higher than for people with no brain injury.  For instance, a year after the brain injury, the stroke risk was about 4.6 times greater, compared to just 2.3 times in persons with no brain injury.

As maritime attorneys, we find this study interesting because it’s the first point to a connection between an increased risk of stroke and a TBI.  Other studies have linked traumatic brain injury to an early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.  However, the American Stroke Association does not include brain injury as a predictor for stroke.

Brain injuries in a maritime environment can be prevented through stronger worker training to avoid head injury risks, better coordination among crew members to prevent accidents involving flying debris and falling objects and use of proper protective gear.