Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s brain function appears to be in good condition, the Buffalo Bills tweeted Thursday morning, following days of uncertainty and concern following the player’s cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game. against the Cincinnati Bengals.
«Damar has shown a remarkable improvement in the last 24 hours,» said the Bills tweeted. «Although he is still seriously ill, he has shown that he appears to be neurologically intact.»
Hamlin, 24, has been in intensive care after collapsing on the field due to cardiac arrest during «Monday Night Football» on January 2. The incident, seen by millions, occurred just after Hamlin collided with another player. It appeared the other player’s shoulder struck Hamlin in the chest.
The Bills’ statement «is a very good sign,» said Dr. Todd Rice, director of the intensive care medical unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Rice has not been involved in Hamlin’s care. Typically at this point, Rice said, doctors are looking for any indication that the patient’s neurological function remains intact and that the patient is responsive to basic verbal commands.
There has been no official statement on what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. But experts not involved in his care have suggested a rare phenomenon called «commotio cordis» is to blame.
Normally, the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body about every second. There is a rhythm to the process, which keeps the blood flowing at a healthy rate. But every time the heart beats, there is a small moment, less than one-fifth of a second, that makes it vulnerable to the force of a projectile that can cause a chaotic and life-threatening heart rhythm.
It is at this exact moment, experts say, that a hit to the chest in the right place can trigger cardiac arrest in a healthy person. The electrical system of the heart malfunctions and the heart rhythm becomes out of control.
On Thursday morning, Hamlin’s teammate Kaiir Elam said in a tweet: «Our boy is better, awake and showing more signs of improvement.»