NewsLocal News


Health professionals speak on important takeaways of Bills safety Damar Hamlin's injury

Screen Shot 2023-01-03 at 5.42.18 PM.png
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-03 19:22:59-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Much of the nation has been hoping and praying since they saw Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapse on the field during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The incident raised many questions, including what happened to Hamlin and how much of a toll do high-contact sports take on professional athletes?

“Statistics show that about 350,000 people die from cardiac arrest every year. In terms of this happening in contact sports, it’s less frequent,” said interventional cardiologist Dr. Ammar Habib. “Blunt force, what we witnessed yesterday, is not a very common source of this, but it can be a very serious one. Sometimes you can’t really tell what causes cardiac arrest.”

He says the chances of surviving cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are usually less than ten percent in the general population. Studies have shown that for every minute that goes by without appropriate CPR, the chances of survival decrease by about 10%.

Even after survival, it can lead to long-term ramifications.

“They are basically not breathing. They may develop a decrease in oxygen flow to the brain, and that could affect their outcomes. It can affect their cardiac function going forward — was cardiac arrest due to a heart attack, for example, and do they have a weak heart because of that? So it really depends on what the cause is,” said Habib.

This is why Habib says widespread general knowledge of CPR is so important.

“If we can really teach everyone how to do CPR, how to provide CPR, you may be the person that saves your loved one or a friend, or someone else’s loved one or friend. And I think, as a society, we would really benefit from that,” said Habib.

Sports psychologist Dr. Andrew Jacobs says the incident raised questions about mental health in sports as well.

He believes after last night, many athletes and their families will think twice about why they are playing the game and if they should.

“I think you need to do research when your son or daughter is gonna be on a team at a club level or at the high school level. Find out about that coach and if there are issues, discuss it. And figure out from a psychological perspective is it healthy to be in that sport as well as the physical side,” said Jacobs.

As for the NFL teams, he says there need to be team meetings, deep discussions and professional interventions to address the secondary trauma they experienced before games are resumed.

“Josh Allen crying last night in tears, obviously he and Burrow hugged at one point you saw on camera, shows the humanity of them. And I think what that does for fans hopefully is it makes us realize as a fan they are just like us when it comes to emotions and feelings and life,” said Jacobs. “I think the biggest thing that we got from this is — sport is a sport. It’s a game, and it’s not as important as life is.”