A week after his collapse on the field during a Monday Night Football game, NFL safety Damar Hamlin is walking and already back in Buffalo in the care of a local hospital.
Hamlin was accompanied to the airport by his care team and left Cincinnati this morning. The Buffalo Bills football player is now being observed at another hospital to make sure there was no impact of the flight on his condition and lungs, according to William Knight IV, MD, an emergency medicine and neurocritical care physician at UC Health and University of Cincinnati Medical Center, speaking during a press conference.
He shared that Hamlin was extubated on Friday and weaned off oxygen. He walked his first lap, also on Friday, and has a normal gait with no indication of cervical spine injury. He is now undergoing physical therapy to regain strength and tolerating a regular diet.
“We continue to be ecstatic about his recovery,” said Timothy Pritts, MD, PhD, a trauma surgeon at the same institution. Pritts noted that Hamlin will undergo tests and evaluation to determine the etiology behind his cardiac arrest on the field last week. Some have speculated that the event was caused by commotio cordis or an underlying cardiomyopathy.
Previously, the care team for Hamlin confirmed that Hamlin initially had a pulse when he was hit during the game and fell to the ground. When he lost the pulse, responders started CPR, followed by defibrillation within minutes. Hamlin was then moved to an ambulance, where he was intubated for respiratory support, and arrived at the hospital within 45 minutes of his collapse.
Hamlin was defibrillated on the field only once; he did not receive a second defibrillation or CPR in the ambulance or at the hospital, Knight said last week.
In the hospital, he was in the surgical ICU and put on mechanical ventilation and aggressive targeted temperature management until he was extubated on Friday.
Going forward, he no longer needs intensive respiratory therapy or nursing, according to Pritts.
Nevertheless, at this stage, the Cincinnati care team said it was premature to discuss Hamlin’s timeline for recovery and a potential return to football.