Notre Dame Starter Knocked Out By Migraines

Notre Dame Starter Knocked Out By Migraines

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.

Image courtesy of Notre Dame.

Image courtesy of Notre Dame.

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.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Alicia Lange at 7:13 am

    Several family members, including my two young children & myself, suffer from Hemiplegic Migraine. It is debilitating, and life-altering. We must raise money for more research into the treatment of this crippling disease.

  2. Autumn Glover at 3:10 pm

    I have seen what Hemiplegic Migraines can do in a young person’s life. My 14 year old daughter suffers from them and they can hit without much warning. For her, episodes can last 30 hours or more without medical intervention. She is on daily medications that help “stem the tide,” but she still has two or more a month requiring emergency room visits. Since there is little to no research in this area, she can look forward to a lifetime of never knowing if she will be out with friends and one hits, forcing them to get her to the nearest ER, missed days at work when she joins the workforce, and the possibility of her stroke-like symptoms continuing after the migraine is gone. These are not your normal headaches, not are they even like a traditional migraine. I have traditional migraines and they are nothing compared to a HM attack. Funding for research would be such a help in getting education to not only the general public, but also the medical profession.

  3. Kristina Richard at 9:10 pm

    I am a 30+ year survivor of Hemiplegic Migraines that have caused strokes and an Advocate as well. I have been supporting HMers for years. There is little research or dollars spent on this very debilitating disease. Although many of us are ready to reach out, and do whatever it takes to find a treatment or even a cure. Many doctors, ER Doctors and even Neurologist have no clue on what or how to treat an HM patient. So we listen to each other and get information to take to our doctors (sort of inform them)on other HM groups and Pages on FB. I am a huge researcher ~The Research Guru~ As Spond has said, “Even “the best” medical team has a hard time with it.” I support his decision although, how unfortunate to see a bright young athlete’s career come to an end. However, with his exposure hopefully others will speak out and we can get the awareness we so badly need! Have him get in touch with me 🙂 Let’s make a difference!

    What are Hemiplegic Migraines? Not your “Ordinary Migraine”! That is why many haven’t heard of them.

    HM are episodic, inherited or acquired. An HMer can look like any other person. However, when exposed to a particular trigger, at any time of the day/night, they can experience a variety of symptoms ranging in severity and lasting in duration from a few minutes, several days to even months. HM can be very frightening as HMers will suffer stroke-like symptoms that leave one unbalanced and can sometimes end up with a cane, walker or even a wheelchair.

    HM is a rare disease and is classified as migraine with aura accompanied with motor weakness/paralysis (a slow moving transient weakness/paralysis to one side of the body) being the defining characteristic. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling to one side of the body, leaving one uncoordinated, visual disturbances and slurring of speech, which can lead people to believe an HMer has been drinking or under the influence. Drooping of the face, confusion, speech difficulty, impaired consciousness, memory loss, as well as other symptoms usually seen with migraine patients. HM is an extremely complicated disease as an attack can feel like a Trans Ischemic Attack (TIA) leaving one to question whether to seek treatment. Sometimes these attacks do result in a stroke. Rarely, they can result in coma and death.

    Most attacks self resolve, with time and rest. However, some need more attention as they leave behind significant difficulties. Many HMers are accustom to frequent attacks on a daily basis, which they suffer in the quiet of their own home due to the unjust treatment received at ER. In other situations intensive medical intervention, such as IV treatments, MRI scans, in an Emergency room setting are required to stop an attack. It is not uncommon for an Hmer to spend time in inpatient care and rehabilitation.

    Hemiplegic Migraine is a worldwide disease and spares no punches! We need a few well known supporters to help us spread awareness, support, and educate the ignorant.

  4. Catherine Charrett-Dykes at 8:59 am

    I’m an advocate for chronic migraine and looking for public faces to help raise awareness. Jeremy Staat a Veteran and former NFL player and I have been communicating in an effort to join forces and help put an end to this crippling disease once and for all.

  5. Karen Fanjoy at 3:53 am

    I work with clients using the mind/body approach to healing. Most have found great relief using energy psychology, when modern medicine has failed them.
    Migraines are no exception.
    I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, Danny. :o)

  6. Maryann H at 9:19 pm

    For those that are lucky enough to not suffer from migraines, all I can say is God Bless You and I hope you never do. Mine have affected me for over 40 years, coming, going, dropping by for a long visit and leaving a hole in me at times I wish I could fix.
    Don’t disregard a spouse or co-worker, they could be in real trouble, especially if the words “it’s the worst headache of my life”, get them to an ER.

  7. Joy H Selak at 6:44 pm

    There is a similar story about Ryan Swope, A&M star, drafted by the NFL, but quit the game due to concerns about effects of concussions.