Damar Hamlin’s Neurological Recovery Reaches a ‘Turning Point’

Damar Hamlin’s ability to communicate with medical personnel and members of his family after a cardiac arrest on Monday night bodes well for his brain’s recovery, according to the doctors caring for him and outside medical experts.

“This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care,” said Dr. William Knight IV, director of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, which has been treating Mr. Hamlin since he collapsed on the field during a Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game. “But he still has significant progress that he needs to make.”

While experts have reasons to anticipate that Mr. Hamlin may be on a good path for neurological recovery, questions remain about the health of his other organs, including his lungs.

In a news conference on Thursday, Dr. Knight and Dr. Timothy A. Pritts said that Mr. Hamlin was still critically ill, was in intensive care and was still lightly sedated and on a ventilator, and so unable to talk. But he can now communicate by shaking his head and nodding. He even wrote a question on a pad of paper, asking his nurse who had won the game.

“There’s every reason to think he will return to a normal neurologic function,” said Dr. Michael Mack, chairman of cardiovascular services at Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas.

“The next big milestone,” Dr. Pitts said, “will be getting him to breathe on his own.”

Mr. Hamlin’s doctors declined to predict when or if he would fully recover and whether he would be able to play football again. They said they were just taking things day by day.

“It’s been a long and difficult road for the last three days,” Dr. Knight said. Mr. Hamlin, he said, was “incredibly sick.”

But, he said, “he is now demonstrating signs of good neurological recovery.”

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