What Is Cognitive Reserve and How Does It Affect Outcome After TBI?

Dr. Jordan Grafman talks about how people who had a higher level of skills, interests, and motivation before a brain injury tend to have a better outcome than those who did not.

See more videos with Dr. Jordan Grafman.

Individual differences are critical. There's going to be lots of reasons people who seemingly have the same severity of injury have a different outcome, and we know another reason besides genetics is in some sense what's been called cognitive reserve, and we know that, for example, let's take military veterans. We know in the case of military veterans that if they have a higher pre-injury test score on their induction tests-- which is more or less equivalent to an intelligence test-- they have a better outcome simply on that basis. Now, what does that mean? It could mean that if you have a higher intelligence when you go into the military-- maybe it means you enjoyed education more. You're more adaptive. You're willing to learn and accommodate to new situations-- could be a lot of factors that cause that, but those same factors don't go away after a brain injury, and it puts you in a position that during rehabilitation and after you return to the home to potentially do better because you come with these skills in the first place-- these interests and this motivation--so as long as that stays with you, you probably will have a better outcome than somebody who never developed those skills and interests before they were injured.
Posted on BrainLine February 11, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.