UMC physician sheds light on sports and injuries

TUSCALOOSA – Monday night Buffalo Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the football field in Cincinnati after suffering cardiac arrest, leaving him in critical condition.

Local doctors tell us football is obviously a contact sport and hits happen all the time. But a hit like this one is not typical, where a player is rushed to the hospital.

Dr. Ray Stewart, physician at the University Medical Center and the University of Alabama Medical Director of Athletics, gave his expert knowledge on the injury that took place Monday night.

“Any type of blunt force trauma to the chest at the right time or the wrong time, depending on how you look at it, can trigger a change in the heart rhythm and send it to a rhythm that is dangerous for someone. And that can happen with any number of impacts that you would see on a regular basis in sports,” said Stewart.

Stewart said these types of injuries usually occur in younger athletes, simply because of their anatomy and lack of development in the chest.

“There has always been a search for the proper vest and padding that would prevent this. To date, there has not been anything that has been shown to be 100% effective.  So if you do everything right and come up with the best scenario for padding and other equipment, it’s still possible it could happen,” said Stewart.

Stuart said recovery is key for such injuries, and immediate treatment to restore the heart rhythm back to normal is recommended to prevent further issues.

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