Research Summary

Research Summary: Effects of Postsecondary Education on Employment Outcomes and Earnings of Young Adults with Traumatic Brain Injuries

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A Quick Look

Postsecondary education is extremely important in both securing competitive employment and achieving positive employment outcomes. Those with postsecondary education degrees enjoy numerous benefits, such as greater skill sets that make them more marketable for competitive employment, more job options, and higher wages. Adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) have employment rates much lower than their nondisabled peers and thus, enrolling in and completing postsecondary education has been posed as an effective employment intervention for young adults with TBI. This study compared employment-related outcomes between VR participants with TBI who engaged in postsecondary education, and VR participants with TBI who did not engage in postsecondary education.

Key Findings

  • Paid employment is essential for physiological survival and well-being.
  • College and university training has a significant positive impact on employment and lifetime earnings.
  • People with disabilities, and specifically people with TBI, face a number of barriers which may inhibit successful employment outcomes such as employment status, hours worked per week, and weekly earnings.
  • In this study, young adults with TBI in the treatment group (had at least some college education completed at the close of their VR case) had higher rates of employment than the control group (had no more than a high school education completed at the close of their VR case).
  • The treatment group earned significantly more money per week than the control group.
  • The treatment group worked significantly more hours per week than the control group.
  • Overall, those who received college or university training had more successful employment outcomes.

Putting It Into Practice

  • There are many strategies/supports that rehabilitation counselors can implement to assist those with TBI in attending and successfully completing postsecondary education. These include:
    • Connecting to and improving access to resources such as tuition support and accommodations services, as well as training in self-advocacy, social skills, job interviewing, job seeking skills, study skills, and time management.
    • Strengthening connections and becoming more familiar with resources in the community to improve communication within the client’s treatment team, including neuro-rehabilitation providers, disability service providers, and disability support centers on campus.

Learn More

  • This non-experimental causal comparative data study extracted information from the RSA-911 database and employed propensity score matching to create a treatment (n=278), and a control group (n= 278). Chi-square analysis and t-tests for independent sample analysis were used to compare the differences between the treatment and control groups.
  • Article on interagency collaboration in transition:
    • Oertle, K. M., Plotner, A. J., & Trach, J. S. (2013). Rehabilitation professionals’ expectations for transition and interagency collaboration. Journal of Rehabilitation, 79(3), 25-35.
  • CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion


Chan, F., Rumrill, P., Wehman, P., Iwanaga, K., Wu, J. R., Rumrill, S., & Lee, B. Effects of post- secondary education on employment outcomes and earnings of young adults with traumatic brain injuries. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 53, 159-166.

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