Veronica With Four Eyes

What If I Get A Concussion In College?

My family and friends frequently tell me that I am the type of person that can handle any situation that life throws at me and that many of my experiences can make great blog material. As a result of this, I have decided to start a new series of posts that tackle many what-if situations that students may worry about facing when they get to college or live on their own. Today, I will be sharing my experiences dealing with a concussion in college, as well as experiences from my friends.


All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

How I got a concussion in college

For a bit of context, I am very photosensitive to strobe, flashing, and flickering lights, and I typically get a migraine whenever I am exposed to these lights for a prolonged period of time. So when I was taking a shower and the power suddenly started to go out in my dorm, I was exposed to over thirty seconds of rapidly flashing lights, lost my balance, and fell down, hitting my head on the side of the shower. After I was able to stand up, I called the after-hours nurse line for my college’s student health center and was instructed to go to the ER next to campus. While I don’t quite remember how I got there, I do remember campus security drove me back to my dorm from the ER when I was discharged.

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Why I wasn’t immediately diagnosed with a concussion

Because of the way I had fallen, I was initially diagnosed with only a sprained ankle. The fact that I already had another neurological condition that caused me to have baseline symptoms that mimicked a concussion meant that no one immediately suspected that I had a concussion, even though I had hit my head. When I started developing more concussion symptoms about 24 hours later, my friend drove me back to the ER and I was officially diagnosed following a CT scan.

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Emailing my professors

Since I was having trouble thinking, I ended up emailing my professors a very garbled message saying that I had hit my head and had a concussion. I also attached a selfie of me sitting in the emergency room with the clock behind me so that they could clearly see when the photo was taken. I told them that I would be sending documentation of my injury, but until then I would need to have modified deadlines for course materials. All of my professors were very understanding and happy to accommodate for this issue, though some professors sent follow-up emails because they said my first message didn’t make a lot of sense. When my friend got a concussion, they had someone else send emails explaining the situation on their behalf, using their student email account.

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Modifying my electronics

I was instructed by doctors to not use screens for a week, and if I had to use one I was supposed to adjust display settings to avoid hurting my brain. Since my concussion, I have helped several other friends with adapting their phones and tablets for concussion, which included enabling the following settings:

  • Dark/inverted screens, also referred to as high contrast mode
  • Select-to-speak screen readers for reading text out loud
  • Dictation typing
  • Voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa
  • Autocorrect for typing

While it’s important to listen to doctor’s orders when it comes to technology use, these accessibility settings can be beneficial for critical communication needs or for recovering after a concussion.

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Submitting documentation for delayed deadlines

When it came time to submit documentation for delayed deadlines, I included the first pages of both of my ER discharge papers, which had my name, birthday, relevant dates, and my diagnosis. I redacted all other personal information and sent the documentation by email to all of my professors, who accepted it with no problem. Since I had sent the initial message saying what was going on, I was able to wait a few days before sending in the official documentation since they knew I wasn’t blowing off class.

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Resting at home

After being diagnosed with a concussion, my mom came to pick me up and I went home for about a week. If I had needed to stay on campus, I would have arranged for free sick meals to be delivered from the dining hall and had friends help me get around, but it was so much easier to just be at home and rest in my bed. Plus, my neurologist and doctors were all in my hometown and several hours from my college, so it made no sense to stay there.

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My eventual return to campus

After my neurologist said I could go back to campus, I returned and met with all of my professors to talk about making up work. Most of them granted me an incomplete grade so that I had extended time beyond the end of the semester to turn in assignments and to take final exams, which worked out well. Once I turned in the work, the incompletes disappeared and I was assigned letter grades for my classes.

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Other tips for dealing with a concussion in college

  • Do not delay getting checked out for a concussion- I recommend having the nearest urgent care and hospital addresses listed in your phone or another convenient location
  • Avoid the temptation to work on assignments for the first few days after being injured, as this is critical recovery time
  • Students may qualify for temporary accommodations through Disability Services such as extended time or attending classes remotely, depending on what their doctor says

What If I Get A Concussion In College? How to deal with getting a concussion and college and how to ask for assignment extensions and recover quickly