Chris Pronger talks about his own experience with the same injury sustained by Damar Hamlin


NHL legend Chris Pronger took to Twitter on Wednesday to share the story of his experience with commotio cordis, the same cardiac event Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin faced in early January. (Getty Images)

On January 2, the entire sports world held its breath when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a Week 17 game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

After tackling Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin received a shot to the chest that caused his heart to go into cardiac arrest. It was believed that Hamlin was suffering from a cardiac event known as commotio cordis, a rare but potentially fatal disturbance to the normal heart rhythm that results from a strong blow to the chest. Support poured in from around the world as he was administered before being taken to hospital where he spent a week recovering.

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In solidarity, legendary NHL defenseman Chris Pronger gave an intimate and detailed account of his own experience with the phenomenon through a Twitter thread on Wednesday.

On May 10, 1998, Pronger and the St. Louis Blues faced the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. During the third period, Pronger blocked a punch shot that hit him in the chest – just to the left of his heart – and struggled to get to the bench, eventually collapsing on the ice in the same fashion as Hamlin.

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“I blacked out while on the ice, but before I passed out, I was able to get up and stumble forward a few steps before collapsing,” Pronger said on Twitter. “When the trainer got hold of me, my eyes rolled back into my head and my lips turned blue. He took off my helmet and felt for a heartbeat.

Feeling none, the trainer began performing chest compressions and CPR, rebooting Pronger’s system and making him the first athlete to survive commotio cordis at the time, and only the fourth person to survive the cardiac event that the doctors knew until then. After spending a night in the hospital and the next 24 hours on a heart monitor, he was cleared to play the next game.

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Here is the video of the incident.

However, there was still the mental aspect that Pronger struggled with, not knowing if he could play freely and forget about the near-death experience he went through just days ago, but the overwhelming support he received from both fans and teammates spurred him on. to continue. to keep playing.

“When I left the ice after warming up, I thought to myself, ‘How can I not be in this game?’ What an environment to be a part of,” said Pronger. “The roar of the crowd as I skated onto the ice before the game was something to behold.”

Pronger played more than 1,100 games over an 18-year career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, going down as one of the strongest players in NHL history.

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