When an elite college football player from a major program has to quit the sport, you’d normally think of a blown knee, or an ankle or shoulder injury.
But for Danny Spond, starting linebacker at Notre Dame, it is migraine headaches.
Spond, who was a key defensive contributor on Notre Dame’s run to the national championship game last year, missed a couple of games due to migraines early in the 2012 season. In fact, he was hospitalized because the migraines were so severe.
He came back to start the last 11 games for the Irish. For his career he played 29 games, had 53 tackles, one interception, and was slated to start again this year.
The migraines flared up again in the current fall camp as the Irish prepare for the 2013 season. And this time, it was too much for Spond to overcome.
“My football playing career is over after suffering another paralyzing migraine,” Spond said. “I’ve received the best medical treatment and guidance possible. Unfortunately, an exact cause of the migraines remains undetermined.”
The type of migraine he had to endure was especially debilitating.
“Hemiplegic migraines are a rare form of headache that present with temporary stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness and slurred speech,” said Notre Dame head football team physician Dr. Jennifer Malcolm.
“Danny has suffered from a series of these migraines, but with medication, rehabilitation and a positive attitude he should avoid any long-term consequences. As there are no fully reliable predictors of hemiplegic migraines and ultimate prevention is extremely challenging, we fully support Danny.”
Spond decided to walk away from the game he loved with what he called a “heavy heart”.
One can only imagine. Spond will travel with the team this year, but his playing days are over.
In his statement, you can hear the frustration that so many migraine sufferers feel. Twenty eight million Americans suffer from migraines. They often start in teenage years, like they did with Spond. And more women than men get them. Here is a thorough question and answer section on migraines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Spond, who is from Littleton, Colorado, is looking to the future.
“I promise to continue to give all I can to this university this year by coaching my position and providing senior leadership in all ways,” Spond said.
Spomd is expected to graduate from Notre Dame this school year. And he will continue to fight migraines, the way that 28 million Americans have to do each day.