(NewsNation) — While Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is still in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game in Cincinnati, his recovery is moving in “a positive direction,” the player’s marketing representative said Wednesday.
Now, many are wondering what Hamlin’s future will look like — what’s that recovery process, what’s the best- and worst-case scenario, and what’s his future going to be?
While details on Hamlin’s condition or recovery haven’t been released, Dr. Dave Montgomery, a board-certified cardiologist and host of “Dr. TV,” said ICU doctors typically follow a procedure to save as much brain and heart tissue as possible after injuries like this.
“What we typically do is we get the patient their return of circulation, and then we put him through a protocol where we are trying to save as much brain and heart as possible,” he explained. “It’s a cooling process, we take the temperature of the body down, and allow the body to try to heal itself over time.”
Montgomery said the 48 hours after that process is critical to see how much brain tissue was able to be saved and how much recovery someone can have.
Several doctors, including Montgomery, have hypothesized commotio cordis as a possible condition that Hamlin experienced.
“If it’s commotio cordis, that’s gonna be really hard to get them back into the field of play, where you can’t mitigate from a ball hitting, for example, or other things like that. So I think this is going to be something that we do have to wait on,” Montgomery said.
However, Montgomery said he’s treated patients in worst conditions than Hamlin who have recovered.
“As an ICU doctor, I can remember doing advanced life support on people who didn’t have their own circulation, not for nine minutes, like him, but for 30-40 minutes,” he said. “In your brain, you’re saying I know we’re trying the best we can, but this person’s probably not gonna live — lo and behold they walk out of the hospital fully functioning.”
“But there’s a lot to say here about the human will to live and the body’s own ability to heal itself. I just have to say this: Time will tell. We really just have to wait to see what his recovery is going to be like, and we might be surprised,” he continued.
While Hamlin’s injury looks like a football injury, sometimes things that happen on the field can trigger other conditions.
Montgomery noted that Hamlin’s medical or cardiac history wasn’t known and he may have had things that he didn’t know about.
“He could have had a preexisting condition, a genetic predisposition to heart problems, and not know it. Remember, there’s been several athletes throughout history that have had the first sign that they’ve had a problem on the field of play,” he said. “But doctors would be able to sort of go back, sort of back their way into that answer, and we haven’t heard from them quite yet.”
“Remember, there are so many things that could have, in a perfect storm, in that hit, could have caused him to have a cardiac arrest that have nothing to do with the hit itself that have nothing to do with concussions.”