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College graduates more likely to recover from brain injuries

College graduates have some distinct advantages, such as having the potential to earn higher incomes than non-graduates over the course of their careers. New research indicates that there’s a benefit that’s less well known: college graduates have a better chance of recovering without disability from a traumatic brain injury than those who don’t receive higher education at a school such as Newark’s Rutgers University.

The study published in the American Academy of Neurology looked at 729 victims of traumatic brain injury. After 12 months, those who had some level of higher education were most likely to recover without disability. 

The odds are startling: people with a college education were almost seven times more likely to fully recover than those who had dropped out of high school.

A neurosurgeon involved with the study noted that the size of the brain “is not as important as people may think.” Rather, it’s the level of “cognitive reserve” that can make the difference between graduates and dropouts. Those who challenge themselves and learn new things are reinforcing or creating new neural connections that wind up protecting them in the event of a brain injury.

The doctor noted that college education isn’t the only way to keep your brain active. Undertaking intellectual tests, such as crossword puzzles or learning new languages – any activity that makes a person examine ideas –  strengthens those neural paths, too.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, no amount of education or learning can undo the damage done by injury or illness. In those situations, a person might well need assistance with living expenses from Social Security Disability; assistance that can be easier to obtain with the help of an SSDI attorney.

Source: KABC, "Study: College grads heal brain injury faster," May 28, 2014

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