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Education Helps Injured Brains Recover

Update Date: Apr 23, 2014 04:54 PM EDT

Education protects the brain from blows. New research reveals that higher educations helps people recover from traumatic brain injuries.

The latest study looked at people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. All participants had spent time in hospital emergency departments and inpatient rehabilitation facilities after injury.

"After these types of injuries, some people are disabled for life and are never able to go back to work, while other people who have similar injuries recover fully," study author Eric B. Schneider, PhD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said in a news release. "We understand some factors that lead to these differences, but we can't explain all of the variation. These results may provide another piece of the puzzle."

The latest research involved 769 people at least 23 years old and who had been followed for at least a year after their injury. Researchers grouped participants by education level.

They found that 28 percent or 219 participants suffered no disability and were able to return to work or school. Only 23 people or 10 percent of these people were those who did not complete high school. This is astonishing when compared to 31 percent of participants. However, 31 percent of 136 people with some college education and 39 percent or 76 people with college degrees were able to achieve full recovery with no disability.

"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."

The findings were published in the online issue of Neurology.

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