Quitting College Football Career: Treatment for Migraine with Aura

August 9, 2012

At the age of 21, University of Wisconsin defensive tackle, Jordan Kohout made the painful decision to retire from playing football.  Following a medical diagnosis indicating that he had, unknowingly, experienced 2 small strokes linked to migraines, he made the brave decision to forgo the game he loves in favor of protecting his health.  He noticed that contact during play would precipitate the migraines.  So, his decision to quit playing was best migraine treatment under the circumstances.

The Wisconsin Badgers junior didn’t have a chronic migraine condition, but during his high school career, experienced cluster headaches and the occasional migraine.  Then, during the spring season he began experiencing severe migraines with aura. In an interview on UWBadgers.com, he described them. “It starts with a light flash, light streaks… Tunnel vision would kind of form and it was followed by pretty intense pain; sometimes vertigo, too.”

Treatment for migraines with aura is the same as for chronic migraines.  Pain relieving medications should be taken at the first sign of aura or migraine.  Preventative medications, to reduce the number of migraines, include blood pressure lowering medication, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and botulin injections.

So what exactly is ‘aura’ and what are the symptoms?  Aura may precede usual migraine symptoms, with visual or sensory disturbances, and last about an hour before disappearing.  According to the Mayo Clinic, most aura symptoms are visual and begin in the middle of your field of vision before spreading sideways.  They include:

  • Blind spots
  • Zigzag floating lines
  • Shimmering spots or stars
  • Changes in vision
  • Flashes of light

Sensory disturbances include:

  • Numbness
  • Slurred or disrupted speech
  • Muscle weakness.

Fortunately for Jordan Kohout, the migraines have stopped.  He has had cluster headaches but he said, “they’re not to the degree of the migraines I had in the spring.’’ The young athlete is looking forward to student coaching this year and said, “As much as I love football, life has a lot of other things to offer as well.’’ How inspiring and wise …and only 21!

Photo courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc.

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