EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Playing in front of a national television audience is a dream for some, but suffering a serious injury while doing so is a nightmare.
MSU sports physician Nathan Fitton says swift action in situations like these is crucial.
“I started here at Michigan State University in 2016, and I have been with the Department of Athletics since then,” said Fitton.
Fitton wasn’t watching the game when Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field.
“I got a text message from one of my good friends that was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did you see this?'”
He instantly tuned in to watch
“And that’s when I saw the Twitter feed of it, and immediately went downstairs and turned on the TV to kind of watch the live ongoing coverage.”
Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit during the game, and nothing other than that has been officially diagnosed.
Fitton says a direct blow like that is serious.
“Through speculation, right, we don’t have the final diagnosis of exactly what happened, but from watching the video and the subsequent events, it is believed that he suffered something called commotio cordis,” said Fitton.
It only takes a sudden hit and at a perfect time.
“There’s only about two to three milliseconds of an open window for a hit like this to cause complications,” said Fitton. “It then causes the heart rhythm to go kind of out of whack and spastic. So, when it doesn’t contract very well, it doesn’t move blood and that’s where the passing out, as well as the life-threatening event occurs because the heart is no longer able to pump blood throughout the body.”
This reinforces the importance of life-saving devices like automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, on hand.
“We work to have them on-site at nearly every sporting event because we know that athletes are at risk for sudden cardiac death. Commotio Cordis is one of those events that we are prepared for, as well as other causes from structural heart diseases that could lead to sudden cardiac death,” said Fitton.
He’s also encouraging meaningful conversations during this time
“There’s gonna be athletes that are questioning, ‘Should I even be doing this or that?’ And that’s really where it’s a time for conversation with parents and, if needed, counselors. Those types of things to work through the very difficult scene from last night,” Fitton said.
Fitton also applauds the quick work and immediate resuscitation from the medical personnel at the game, saying it sets Hamlin up for a potentially successful recovery.