(HealthDay News) – Damar Hamlin has returned to practice with the Buffalo Bills after recovering from his sudden cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January.
Hamlin, 25, said commotio cordis was the cause of his cardiac arrest.
“I died on national TV in front of the whole world,” Hamlin told reporters Tuesday. “I lost a bunch of people in my life. I know a bunch of people who lost people in their lives. I know that feeling. That right there is the biggest blessing of it all – for me to still have my people and my people to still have me.”
With commotio cordis, severe trauma to the chest can disrupt the heart’s electrical charge and cause dangerous fibrillations. For Hamlin, this happened after making a tackle. He appeared to be hit with a helmet in his chest.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said Hamlin has seen three separate specialists during the offseason. He “is clear to resume full activities just like anyone else who was coming back from an injury,” Beane said.
Hamlin has been participating in offseason workouts this week.
“He is fully cleared,” Beane said. “He’s here.”
“[Hamlin’s] in a great headspace to come back and make his return,” Beane added.
Hamlin said he was blessed by a medical team who “treat me with the care of their children,” CNN reported.
“I just want to show people that fear is a choice. You can keep going at something without having the answers and without knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel,” Hamlin said. “You might feel anxious – you might feel any type of way – but you just keep putting that right foot in front of the left one and you keep going. I want to stand for that.”
Athletes are able to return to play after commotio cordis if no underlying cardiac abnormalities are found, according to the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
“What it basically means a few things. One is that his heart function returned to normal. He has no underlying problems with the anatomy of the heart itself, and he has no underlying electrical problems, so that’s the most important thing – and the way they figured that out over the last three-and-a-half months was to do a lot of tests,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.
The Bills are happy to have Hamlin back, said head coach Sean McDermott.
“We’re super excited for Damar. He’s moving forward one step at a time here. He’s been cleared from a physical standpoint,” McDermott said.
The American Heart Association has more on commotio cordis.
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