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Doctors: Damar Hamlin asked them, 'Who won the game?' using pen and paper

Doctors say Damar Hamlin has had a remarkable recovery, but is still critically ill and has a long way to go.

CINCINNATI — Doctors at UC Health in Cincinnati says Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has made "substantial improvement" over past 24 hours.

Hamlin, 24, suffered a cardiac arrest after a tackle in the game against the Bengals. He was resuscitated on the field as teammates surrounded him, shielding him from public view.  

The doctors spoke during a news conference Thursday to update the media on Hamlin's condition. 

"We had significant concern about him after the injury and after the event happened on the field, but he is making substantial progress," said Dr. Timothy Pritts, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Division Chief of General Surgery and Vice Chair for Clinical Operations at UC Health.

While Hamlin is improving, doctors say he continues to be critically ill and is still in their surgical and trauma ICU. They say he still has progress to make. 

"It's been a long and difficult road for the last three days. He has been very sick and has made a fairly remarkable recovery and improvement," said Dr. William Knight IV, MD, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Director of the Emergency Medicine MLP Program.

Dr. Pritts and Dr. Knight credit the Bills' medical staff for quickly recognizing that Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and that he was properly resuscitated on the field. 

"I think it just speaks really to the immediate recognition that there was something significantly and seriously wrong by the Bills' medical staff," said Dr. Knight.

"The team and I speak together, we cannot credit their team enough. There are injuries occasionally that happen on sports fields via football or others, but it is incredibly rare to have something like that and to be that quickly recognized.

Dr. Pritts echoed Dr. Knight's statement.

"I will second that," Dr. Pritts said. "You know, the Bills training staff who was with them immediately recognized that this was not the run of the mill injury and had a significant event on their hands and immediately responded and got the emergency response team involved in his care.

"Really, this was went as well as something like this to go under very challenging circumstances. They did a fantastic job, which is why we're here today."

They said Hamlin appears to be neurologically intact and that he is following commands, moving his hands and feet. They say that even though he still can't speak, he was able to ask who won the game using pen and paper on a clipboard. 

The doctors say Hamlin still has many steps ahead of him.

"We would like to see him continue to improve, to be completely  breathing on his own, and then you know, ready to be discharged from the hospital," Dr. Pritts said. 

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