Like Many Employers, the NBA Doesn't 'Get' Migraine Disease
NBA super star Dwyane Wade has lived with migraines for many years. They usually don't interfere with his job playing professional basketball for the Miami Heat, but they recently did. He missed a game due to a lengthy migraine attack and found himself dealing with lingering light sensitivity and visual disturbances. While news outlets like ESPN showed once again they understand migraine disease and how to treat stories about it with respect and accuracy, the NBA showed they don't really get migraine disease at all.
Wade experimented with wearing goggles in practice to help with the light sensitivity he was still dealing with. Through trial and error he found a pair of tinted goggles that were helpful in allowing him to play without making his head worse. He announced he would play in the goggles in that night's game. But just before game time the NBA said he couldn't wear them. When the NBA officials examined the goggles they said they would give Wade an advantage by making it impossible for opposing players to see his eyes. The Heat found Wade a different pair of goggles to use and the NBA approved them. Unfortunately, that pair seemed to interfere with his ability to play more than they might have helped.
Honestly, what was the big problem? He's trying to find a workable solution to a medical problem. Would it have been so hard to permit him an exception for his health condition and allow him to wear the goggles he'd been practicing in? That pair had a host of benefits: he knew their tint was sufficient to help with the light sensitivity, how they fit, how it felt to have them on his face and that they were comfortable enough to be worn while he played.
Unfortunately the NBA's lame-o reaction is similar to what migraineurs experience every single day when their migraine attacks make it difficult to do their work. Their bad decision is a depressing reminder of how misunderstood migraines and all their nasty symptoms can be. If you're dealing with migraine-related limitations at work and need to ask your employer to accommodate them so you can do your job, check out this recent article about ADA accommodations: ADA Accommodations & The Workplace.
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