Posted on March 8, 2013 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 19 of 36 in the series Zachary

College After Severe Brain Injury: Zach Part Nineteen 

 We’ve talked about that period right after your injury, we talked about the rehab, we’ve talked about school.  The one other area I want to talk about in specifics before we talk more about symptoms would be the transition to going to college after severe brain injury.  Did you live you at home when you started college after severe brain injury?

I had to move there.  I knew my roommate.  My roommate was from high school so he was friend of mine from high school.   So, now at least I knew somebody.  But, I was there by myself pretty much, you know.  (I went to U Mass) because I wanted to play Division 1 baseball.  But I really should have stayed at home. It probably would have been smarter to do that but I’m so happy I didn’t.

So are you taking a full course load when you start to college after severe brain injury?

I think I’m taking one less class than, uh, full course.

Are you getting any accommodations in college after severe brain injury?


How did you get that arranged and what did you do to get that in college after severe brain injury?

UMass has a very good special education program, accommodations.

To view:


Talk to me about the daily living adjustment of going from home where mom and dad and family are here versus, living in a dorm with a roommate in college after severe brain injury, who you knew. 

Probably the biggest thing, like I said before, I needed my sleep. I like my sleep and he was up all during the night doing work, he had the lights on. I’m just like, I need the sleep or else I’m, I’m just, it’s good for my health because I’m healing, you know?  But he was kind of a pig, too.

How did you work around that?

I just kind of tried to do my own thing. I wouldn’t let it get to me. Just whatever that he’s doing that he wants to do, I’m going to do what I want to do.

Was it possible to request a single room?

Well, I ended up doing that for the next two years.  What really helped me is my friend John, he was a running back for UMass at the time. He was from my high school, too.  So, I saw him one day and we just started hanging out every day.  So, it helped having at least one person to talk to.

Now, at home you’ve got a set schedule.  You get up at a certain time of day, mom or dad or somebody makes sure that you get up.  When you go off to college you’ve got those classes but there’s nobody there to wake you every morning – and make sure you get to class.


Did you have trouble with that?

Not at all.  Nope.  I went to every class.

Did you have any other time management problems?

No. I made sure I put school first.  And all that other stuff that college students do, I didn’t care about, drinking, hanging out with friends.  I’ve got a lot, I’ve got a lot to focus on to get through this, you know.

What classes did you start out taking?

What classes I started taking? I took an intro to English; I took like an intro to, uh, philosophy, I think.  That teacher, I brought the –  what is it, the accommodation sheet to him. I was like: “I have a brain injury and I need some accommodations and here’s my sheet.”  And he’s like: “Should you even be taking this class?”  I’m like, really, guy?

But, so things like that would happen and it’d be kind of tough for me. I would be like: “This guy doesn’t want me to succeed, a lot of people here don’t want me to succeed, don’t care if I succeed. But I got to be, strong and I have to move forward.“

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Next in Part Twenty –

Accommodations Pre-Arranged for Severe TBI

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447