“The study examined people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, most of which were from motor vehicle accidents or falls. All were taken to the emergency department and spent time in the hospital after the injury and also for inpatient rehabilitation.
The cognitive reserve theory is that people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve, or the brain’s ability to maintain function in spite of damage. The concept has emerged for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, where people with higher levels of education have been shown to have fewer symptoms of the disease than people with less education, even when they have the same amount of damage in the brain from the disease. But few studies have looked at how cognitive reserve may affect traumatic brain injury.
“People with education equal to a college degree were more than seven times more likely to fully recover from their injury than people who did not finish high school,” Schneider said. “And people with some college education were nearly five times more likely to fully recover than those without enough education to earn a high school diploma. We need to learn more about how education helps to protect the brain and how it affects injury and resilience. Exploring these relationships will hopefully help us to identify ways to help people recover better from traumatic brain injury.”
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