Dahmer Hamlin’s ability to communicate with medical personnel and family after suffering a cardiac arrest Monday night bodes well for his brain’s recovery, according to the doctors who care for him and outside medical experts.
“This marks a really good tipping point in his ongoing treatment,” said Dr. William Knight IV, director of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. A game against the Cincinnati Bengals. “But he still needs a lot of progress.”
Experts have reason to expect that Hamlin may be on track for a neurological recovery, but questions remain about the health of other organs, including his lungs.
At a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Knight and Dr. Timothy A. Prydz said Mr. Hamlin was still seriously ill, in intensive care, still on light sedatives and a ventilator, and unable to speak. But now I can communicate by shaking my head and nodding. He wrote the question on a pad of paper and asked the nurse who won the game.
Dr Knight and Dr Pritz said at a press conference that it was not yet clear why Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during the match. One explanation they haven’t ruled out, however, is that he had incredible bad luck when he collided with a Bengals receiver and suffered a severe blow to the chest. Occurring at the exact 20-millisecond moment, the blow can cause the heart to stop as the organs relax and fill with blood.
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Even if the person receives immediate CPR and restarts the heart with a defibrillator, as in Hamlin’s case, the results can be disastrous.
“The big problem with cardiac arrest is the lack of blood flow to the brain,” said Dr. Andrew Lux, an expert in critical care and respiratory disease at the University of Washington who was not involved in Hamlin’s treatment. Told.
While a full neurological evaluation cannot be performed while Hamlin is on a ventilator, “the fact that he is following orders and communicating in writing is very reassuring.” Dr. Lux said. “The likelihood of serious nerve damage is very low.”
“There’s every reason to think he’ll return to normal neurological function,” said Dr. Michael Mack, chairman of cardiovascular services at Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas.
But the recovery is not instant, he added. Patients go through a phase of slowed processing and responding to speech.
Another major concern when a person has a cardiac arrest is lung damage, a serious injury called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). One study found that nearly half of people who had a cardiac arrest developed the condition.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can damage the lungs when repeatedly applying deep pressure to the chest wall. Patients can also damage their lungs by aspirating gastric juices and saliva. Also, impaired blood flow during CPR may contribute to lung injury.
Mr. Hamlin was not spared this complication.
There is no specific treatment for ARDS, and the ventilator is set to take fewer breaths than normal to prevent further damage to the lungs, according to Douglas White, Ph.D., professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. There is no other way than to confirm that Doctors then monitor the patient and wait for it to heal. This may take days or weeks.
Most patients make a full recovery, but some leave scar tissue in their lungs, Dr. White said. For many people, scar tissue is not a serious problem, but for “world-class athletes” who perform extreme physical performance, it is “another problem.”
Scarring is a concern if someone has been on a ventilator for longer than a week, Dr. White added. So far, Hamlin has been on the ventilator for three days.
“The next big milestone,” Dr. Pitts said.
Hamlin’s doctors have refused to predict when Hamlin will make a full recovery or be able to play football. They said they were just taking things daily.
“The last three days have been a long and difficult journey,” said Dr. Knight. Mr. Hamlin was “incredibly ill,” he said.
However, he said, “He is now showing signs of good neurological recovery.”