Those years of pulling all-nighters as you worked toward your college degree could be useful for more than getting a better job – higher education could actually help protect your brain against an injury. According to scientists at Johns Hopkins, a new study clearly finds that people who have had a lot of education are more likely to survive with no measurable disability after a brain injury.
According to the researchers, it is a dramatic difference, and the study clarifies that people with high education levels are seven times more likely compared to high school dropouts, to have no serious disability one year after a brain injury. In other words, the brains of people with higher education levels are able to somehow find their way around the kind of damage that can result after a brain injury.
The study focused on 769 persons who suffered a brain injury and evaluated their condition about one year after the injury. They found that about 39% of the brain injury patients who had earned a college degree, suffered no disability. However, among high school dropouts, the rate of persons with no disability was just 10%. People who had advanced college degrees seemed to fare much better in the amount of protection that their brains had against the long-term effects of a brain injury. These brains recovered much quicker from the injury, and the people were left with no lasting effects at then end of the one-year study period.
The researchers speculate that these higher levels of brain fitness could have something to do with cognitive reserve. In the same way a human body that is physically trained through exercise is more fit, stronger, and able to recover quickly from a physical injury, the brain with more cognitive reserve may also be better equipped to fight against injury.
So, how do you increase your cognitive reserve? The researchers speculate that staying physically and socially active could help develop those neurological reserves. Learning over the course of your lifetime has been found to be beneficial to the brain in many ways. Other studies have found that a mind that is active and frequently seeking knowledge is much more fit than a brain that has been left to disuse.
There was one uncomfortable fact left unaddressed by the research. Persons with advanced degrees are more likely to come from a financially well-off background, which means that they are much more likely to receive the kind of emergency and specialized treatment necessary after a brain injury to prevent long-term disability.
If you have suffered a brain injury in a trucking accident or a motorcycle accident, call a skilled personal injury lawyer at our firm.