scilogs Gray Matters

Superheros fight migraines wearing tinted goggles and Calvin Klein underwear

from Markus A. Dahlem, 28. January 2011, 23:18

Migraine in the US sports news—a great opportunity to raise awareness about this widespread disease. An opportunity missed for German players, who seem too embarrassed to admit that they suffer from this disorder.

Fighting migraines begins with awareness.

Every other week I read in the sports news about players missing a game because of a migraine. 

For instance, November last year the NYT reported in its sports section that Percy Harvin, an American football receiver (Minnesota Vikings) missed practice for two days because of a migraine headache. In the same month, I read that another player got not only migraine headache but also other migraine symptoms as a result of a sport injury. Eric Shelton, an American football running back, suffered a helmet-to-helmet collision and lost all feeling in his extremities for one minute, a possible migraine symptom. The next day he was numb from the waist down. This could be one of the possible symptoms occurring in the resolution and recovery stage of a migraine attack. Furthermore, as a result of this injury, Shelton has been unable to work for some time because of migraine headaches that persisted.

A few days ago, I read that Dwyane Wade, an basketball player (Miami Heat), missed a game being home with a migraine. His teammate Mike Miller could take advantage and scored 32 points. Wade twittered:

Dwyane Wade seems to be open about his disease and can make jokes about missing one game. This raises quite some public awareness for migraine. Probably much more than organized migraine awareness events. There are plenty of hits on Twitter if you search for "Dwyane Wade migraine" with various links to the full story (for more on this, read below). Google finds 283 000 results for "Dwyane Wade and migraine".

Why do I never ever read about migraine in German sports news? Where are the German football (soccer that is) players suffering from migraine? Are they hiding their disease? Actually, Freddie Ljungberg, a Swedish soccer player—and also a model for Calvin Klein underwear—made it into the German news with his migraines. Ljungberg had to be carried from the field after a migraine attack, the Spiegel reported in 2009. He complained of loss of vision and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.  Yet, at that event Ljungberg was captain of the 2009 All-Star Team of the US Major League Soccer. He was not playing in Europe anymore. Only last December, Ljungberg returned and joined the Scottish Premier League club Celtic. 

Not a single player from the German Bundesliga (Germany's highest association football league) suffers officially from migraine, as far as I know. Please correct me, if I am wrong. While in the US, at last some players practice a rather open policy, in Germany there seems to be a wall of silence.

The migraine superhero

Dwyane Wade is the first NBA player being on the cover of Men's Health (April 2006 issue)

Dwyane Wade played a game yesterday. He wore tinted goggles to counter the light in the arena. For many migraineurs light can be a trigger.

“He looked like a superhero to me,” his teammate Landry Fields said. And for the first three quarter he played like one. Only in the fourth quarter he missed all seven of his shots. But there was another problem with Wade’s tinted goggles. Allegedly, the defenders have not been able to see Wade’s eyes because the lenses were too dark. “It’s goggle-gate,” his Coach Erik Spoelstra commented jokingly.

I call all these stories both good sports news and good science stories. Think about what you just have learned about migraine as a disease. People can get numbness, acute loss of vision and they are very light sensitive even after an attack. People will lose work days, no matter what. You will remeber that. There is now less room for prejudice, like migraine is illustration of fakery. So, Dwyane who??? Yes, Dwyane is a superhero fighting migraine, a disease that is by far not all about headaches. 

When do we read such stories in the sports section of a German newspaper, or its science section for that matter?



The NBA announced Wade for the All-Star team for the seventh time in his eight seasons with Miami. He posted a thank-you message to the 2 million fans who voted him into the NBA All-Star Game via facebook. My congrats!



Percy Harvin from Wikipedia: CC-By-SA-2.5

Freddie Ljungberg from Wikipedia: CC-BY-2.0.  


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Gray Matters: Migraines in my blog
Gray Matters: A nearly perfect example how to trigger a migraine attack on YouTube


  1. treating migraine migraines
    06.03.2011 | 15:28

    One of the factors that affects sports men and women is that the body can be difficult to rehydrate, its cool taking part in sports, but there is only so much you can drink at one time, and the best solution is to get a meal inside you as quick as possible if your going to avoid a migraine headache.

  2. 26.05.2012 | 06:02

    What I find alarming: Although the risks of head injuries with long-term consequences are well known in professional football, there are efforts to extend the NFL season time after time. Money > health.

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