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

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

Damar Hamlin has made ‘great improvement’ after on-field cardiac arrest and is now communicating with doctors in writing by asking them who won Monday’s Bills-Bengals matchup: Said doctors ‘he won the game of life’

The good news for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin continued Thursday afternoon as doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said he has made ‘great improvement’ after going into cardiac arrest during Monday’s game against the Bengals .

‘He is starting to wake up and it appears his neurological condition and function is intact,’ said UC College of Medicine Dr. Timothy Pritts in a video press conference.

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

‘Our response was: Damar, you won,’ Pritts told reporters. ‘You won the game of life.’

Damar Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after suffering cardiac arrest and being resuscitated during Monday's Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati

Damar Hamlin is awake and showing signs of improvement after suffering cardiac arrest and being resuscitated during Monday’s Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati

Both Pritts and Dr. William Knight of the University of Cincinnati said the speed with which medics responded to Hamlin’s collapse Monday was critical in saving the Pittsburgh native’s life.

Medics were at Hamlin’s side within a minute of his collapse and immediately realized he had no pulse.

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‘There are injuries that happen in sports, but it’s rare that something happens [that] incredibly serious [that quickly],’ said Pritts. ‘We can’t credit [the Bills medical] the team is enough.’

‘It’s been a long and hard road the last three days,’ Knight said. ‘[Hamlin] has made a marked improvement.’

Despite his improvement, it’s unclear when Hamlin will have his breathing tube removed.

‘Every patient is different,’ says Knight. ‘When patients’ families ask, how long were they on the ventilator, in the ICU, [we’ll say]as long as necessary.’

Pritts said the ‘best outcome’ would be for Hamlin to continue ‘being the person he was before all of this happened.’

University of Cincinnati doctors spoke to the media about Hamlin's condition on Thursday

University of Cincinnati doctors spoke to the media about Hamlin’s condition on Thursday

Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react to a Hamlin is taken care of on the field after a collision

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and the Buffalo Bills react as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) is treated on the field after a collision in the first quarter 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 orders the end of last week’s game against Cincinnati.

One option is to cancel the remainder of the Bills-Bengals game, and use winning percentage to determine playoff seeding in the AFC. Such a move would give the Chiefs the advantage of securing a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the postseason.

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Of course, football is hardly the most pressing thing 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 key that we recognize how much of a strain it puts on everyone involved,” said the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, to reporters this week.

‘Certainly, the teams, the medical care providers, the staff – and this is not just for Buffalo and Cincinnati – but all of our teams.

‘We have resources at each of our clubs, and we have emphasized preparation in this way. Our clubs have deployed those resources with their counselors and their mental health professionals. And that support extends to the entire NFL family, and it will be an ongoing need. It’s something that will continue and it’s something that we will continue to stress.’

The NFL and its players' union have made mental health resources available to players and coaches across the league.  'I think it's definitely key that we recognize how much it means to everyone involved,' said the NFL's chief medical officer, Dr.  Allen Sills (pictured), to reporters

The NFL and its players’ union have made mental health resources available to players and coaches across the league. ‘I think it’s definitely key that we recognize how much it means to everyone involved,’ said the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills (pictured), to reporters