Damar Hamlin makes ‘substantial improvement’ after on-field cardiac arrest, doctors say

Damar Hamlin makes ‘substantial improvement’ after cardiac arrest on the field and is now communicating with doctors in writing asking them who won Monday’s Bills-Bengals matchup: Doctors said he ‘won the game of life’

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The good news continued Thursday afternoon for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin when doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said he had made “substantial improvement” after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday’s game against the Bengals.

“He’s starting to wake up and it looks like his neurological condition and function are intact,” Dr. Timothy Pritts of the UC College of Medicine said during a video press conference.

Hamlin was sedated after his on-field CPR on Monday but began communicating with doctors in writing on Wednesday as his verbal communication is still hampered by his breathing tube. The 24-year-old defender even asked doctors who won Monday’s game, which was postponed indefinitely after he collapsed in the first quarter.

“Our answer was, Damar, you won,” Pritts told reporters. “You have won the game of life.”

Damar Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after going into cardiac arrest and CPR during Monday's Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati

Damar Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after going into cardiac arrest and CPR during Monday’s Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati

Both Pritts and Dr. William Knight of the University of Cincinnati said the speed of the medics’ response to Hamlin’s collapse on Monday was critical in saving the Pittsburgh resident’s life.

Doctors stood next to Hamlin within a minute of his collapse and immediately realized he had no pulse.

“There are injuries that happen in sports, but it’s rare to have anything [that] incredibly serious [that quickly],” Pritts said. We can’t credit [the Bills medical] team enough.’

“It’s been a long and hard road these past three days,” Knight said. ‘[Hamlin] has made quite a remarkable improvement.’

Despite his improvement, it is not clear when Hamlin will remove his breathing tube.

“Every patient is different,” Knight said. “When patients’ families ask, how long will they be on a ventilator, in ICU, [we’ll say]as long as it takes.’

Pritts said the “best outcome” would be if Hamlin was “back to being the person he was before all this happened.”

Doctors from the University of Cincinnati addressed the media on Thursday about Hamlin's condition

Doctors from the University of Cincinnati addressed the media on Thursday about Hamlin's condition

Doctors from the University of Cincinnati addressed the media on Thursday about Hamlin’s condition

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is attended to on the field after a first quarter collision against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is attended to on the field after a first quarter collision against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is attended to on the field after a first quarter collision against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium

The good news comes as the 12-3 Bills prepare to host the New England Patriots on Sunday. Buffalo still has a chance to wrestle the top seed in the AFC playoffs away from the 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs depending on whether or not the NFL wraps up last week’s game against Cincinnati.

One option is to cancel the rest of the Bills-Bengals game and use the win percentage to determine playoff placement in the AFC. Such a move would give the Chiefs a head start in securing the first round bye and home field advantage in the postseason.

Football, of course, is not the most pressing matter as Hamlin continues to recover and other players face the daunting task of returning to the field.

The NFL and its players’ union have made mental health resources available to players and coaches across the league.

“I think it’s definitely important that we recognize how hard this is on everyone involved,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, to reporters this week.

“Certainly, the teams, the medical providers, the staff — and this isn’t just for Buffalo and Cincinnati — but for all of our teams.

“We have resources at each of our clubs and we have put an emphasis on preparation in this way. Our clubs have deployed those resources with their counselors and their mental health professionals. And that support extends throughout the NFL family, and it will be an ongoing need. This is something that will remain and it is something that we will continue to emphasize.”

The NFL and its players’ union have made mental health resources available to players and coaches across the league. “I think it’s definitely important that we recognize how hard this is on everyone involved,” said NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills (pictured), to reporters

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