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Hamlin’s recovery showcases the importance of certified athletic trainers

Date: January 5, 2023 Category: Orthopedic news, Uncategorized

On Thursday, January 5, the Buffalo Bills organization shared that Damar Hamlin woke up Wednesday night and has since squeezed the hands of loved ones, moved his hands and feet, and communicated by writing on a clip board.

Hamlin’s tremendous progress follows 72 hours of uncertainty, after thousands of people -both in the stands and on TV- watched him collapse after a hit and go into cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals.

While the several minutes of on-field CPR were harrowing to watch, the quick actions of the on-field medical staff saved not only his life, but also his cognitive function.

The ICU physicians treating Hamlin made clear that Bills’ assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington, who delivered CPR and defibrillation, is to be celebrated for the progress they shared today.

Director of Sports Medicine and Wellness Josie Fisher, who oversees Excelsior Orthopaedics’ certified athletic trainers, weighs in.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of having certified athletic trainers on the sidelines, who often are the first responders in events such as this,” Fisher said.

Fisher went into detail about the level of training her staff receives, and while they hope it never is needed, she’s confident they’re prepared to save lives just as Kellington did Monday night.

“We want to recognize the importance of using certified athletic trainers to cover not only professional sports but also high school and collegiate level sports. What we witnessed was unprecedented at the NFL level, however it is something that can happen at any time and at any level,” Fisher said. “We take pride and honor in ensuring our certified athletic trainers can provide best practices and techniques as it relates to on-field athletic emergencies. We are committed to providing professional development and training to our team members by working with Sports Medicine Concepts, Inc, which is a nationally known organization that trains professionals on scenarios like what we witnessed Monday. This specialized training ensures our certified athletic trainers are equipped and ready to handle any emergent situation that may arise.”

So what is an athletic trainer? According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), specializes in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. Athletic trainers work in all aspects of health care, not only in professional and amateur sports settings, but also in hospitals and clinics, schools and colleges, youth and recreational sports, public safety, the military, and more. Excelsior Orthopaedics employs clinical athletic trainers, who work with patients and athletes at our offices, and outreach athletic trainers, who work with 17 contracted Western New York school districts.

The other piece that saved Hamlin’s life was the defibrillation administered by an AED, or automated external defibrillator, which delivers a shock to a heart that’s stopped beating to help it reestablish its rhythm and bring back a person’s pulse. Excelsior athletic trainer and safety coordinator Pete McCabe described how crucial AEDs can be on Tuesday morning’s WGR 550 talk show.

“Everyone listening with high school, middle school [athletes], and any other sport with friends and/or with kids, you know, make sure you check in with your schools. Everyone should have an AED ready to go. I think it’s just something really important,” McCabe told the show hosts.

Listen to the full segment here

AEDs are often hanging up somewhere that’s easy to access in places like health care facilities and schools, but they’re expensive, and not everywhere has them. If your school or workplace doesn’t already have one, consider advocating to purchase one so that should the unthinkable happen, the tools are there to save someone’s life just as they did Damar Hamlin’s life.

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