Bills' Damar Hamlin Is Awake and 'Able to Communicate,' Doctors Say: 'The Lights Are On'

"This went as well as something like this could go, under very challenging circumstances," one of Hamlin's doctors said on Thursday

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said they've seen significant progress in Damar Hamlin's recovery.

Hamlin's doctors, Dr. Timothy Pritts and Dr. William Knight IV, said the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety is "beginning to awaken" during a press conference on Thursday.

The doctors said that Hamlin's neurological condition is intact — he's making "big motor movements and following commands," they explained — but they are continuing to monitor his recovery through testing.

Hamlin was able to move his hands and feet as of Thursday, but he remains in "critical condition" in the intensive care unit.

The doctors also said that it was too soon to know the cause of Hamlin's cardiac arrest, but that it could become clearer with further tests.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 25: Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills looks on prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Damar Hamlin. Megan Briggs/Getty

Hamlin has been able to interact with family and Bills staff by writing on a whiteboard, and the NFL player's "first question" after waking up was about which team won the Monday Night Football game where he collapsed. Pritts told reporters one of the medical staff told Hamlin that he had "won the game of life," in response.

Pritts clarified that Hamlin "did not speak" when he woke up, but "was able to communicate in writing" on Thursday.

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"He is unable to speak with us yet as he still has a breathing tube in, and we are still assisting him with ventilation," said Pritts, who added that Hamlin is able to "nod" and "shake his head" to communicate "yes" and "no" responses.

All About Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin
Damar Hamlin/Instagram

Dr. Knight added that "it appears that all the cylinders are firing within his brain" and "that it's not only that the lights are on, we know that he's home."

Knight told reporters that it's "fair to say" that the outcome would have been different had it not been for the quick medical response to Hamlin after his collapse. "It just speaks really to the immediate recognition that there was something significantly and seriously wrong by the Bills medical staff."

Hamlin's doctors agreed that they "cannot credit [the Bills medical staff] enough," for their quick action, adding that "this went as well as something like this could go, under very challenging circumstances."

Pritts said that Hamlin's progress "speaks to his age and incredible fitness" as well as the "immediate medical response" from the "highly-trained professionals from the Buffalo Bills."

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Moving forward, Hamlin still has "many, many steps still ahead of him" in recovery, with doctors hoping to see him breathing on his own and ready to be discharged from the hospital as next steps.

Dr. Knight explained that it is "entirely too early to project into the future" regarding a full recovery, as Hamlin's long-term recovery is still "a little ways" away. For now, the focus is on getting him off the ventilator, according to Knight.

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