Our brains are arguably the most essential organ in our bodies. Combine that with the fact that they are also the least understood organ in our body, and the fact that they can do stuff we probably don’t even realize, and it’s easy to understand why “brain injury” is the medical term that installs massive fear in most people.
They can spell the end of life as we know it, but in some rare cases, a brain injury can lead to what’s known as acquired savant syndrome – a little understood syndrome that happens when some brains are exposed to trauma.
According to Mara Klemich, a neuropsychologist who has worked with traumatic brain injuries, explains it as when new skills or abilities emerge in a previously “normal” person. The new abilities follow a brain injury, stroke, or other central nervous system incidents, and even dementia.
More common skills are drawing and painting, calendar day calculations, math, music, and additional art abilities.
Dr. Klemich says there’s a common misconception that the skills can emerge in any area, which isn’t at all typical.
“The fact that extra-ordinary skills can surface post-brain-related injury or disease raises fascinating questions about dormant capacity potentially existing within us all.
The challenge, of course, if that is true, is how to access that hidden ability and and skill without some sort of brain-related disaster.”
Here are 4 people that came out the other side of traumatic brain injuries with skills they never would have imagined before it happened.
4. Alonzo Clemons
Alonzo Clemons was a toddler when a brain injury changed how he thought, learned, and communicated.
He also began creating lifelike sculptures from memory, and after Rain Main brought savant syndrome into the public eye, Clemons’ public appearances exposed his artwork, which now hangs in galleries around the world.
3. Orlando Serrell
He was only 10 when he was hit in the head with a baseball, and even though he got right back up and continued playing, he had a headache that lasted for days.
When it disappeared, Serrell found he could name the day of the week for any date, and recall the weather, where he was and what he was doing, for every day since the accident.
2. Jason Padgett
Jason Padgett never went beyond pre-algebra in school, but after being attacked outside a karaoke bar and suffering a concussion and PTSD, Padgett was able to visualize and solve complex math and physics topics, as well.
1. Derek Amato
During a game of catch, Derek Amato fell and hit his head on the bottom of a Jacuzzi.
He suffered hearing loss in one ear, memory loss, and headaches, but he gained something in return – he could understand and play complex tunes on the piano without any training.
I’m still not going to line up for a knock on the head, but if scientists can use cases like these to figure out how anyone could unlock a special skill, I might take a number for that!
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!