His career is not well known here in the United States, but his pain may someday have an effect on the treatment of sports head injuries. Last Friday (July 8, 2011) Canadian Football Hall of Famer Matt Dunigan gave an emotional televised interview about his personal fight with post-concussion syndrome. The story was reported on the Canadian television station TSN.
Fifteen years after retiring from the Canadian Football League (CFL), Dunigan is still waiting for the clouds to lift from the 12 diagnosed concussions that he sustained over the course of his career as a superstar quarterback.
“He forgot how to laugh. He didn’t think anything was funny anymore,” explains Kathy [his partner of nearly 30 years]. “Physically he had really bad headaches and he had ghost spots over his eyes.”
Dunigan’s concussions also deeply affected the life of his youngest son, Dolan. At age 14, Dolan was a promising quarterback himself. But after the child’s third sports-related concussion, Dunigan pulled him out of football. It was a difficult decision, affecting the boy’s future career and well-being.
“Just watching him and hearing stories about how good he was in the CFL, I wanted to be just like him,” says Dolan about his father. “It was almost impossible to give [football] up but it was probably the best decision he made for me.”
And, like many American football players, Dunigan has made arrangements to donate his brain to concussion research, with the hope of advancing science and treatment of brain injuries.