Chris Pronger Getty NHL
Getty Images

Former NHL defenseman Chris Pronger can relate to what happened to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin earlier this week. On Tuesday, Pronger tweeted his well wishes to Hamlin since Pronger went through something similar when he was struck in the chest by a puck during an NHL game back in 1998.

"Prayers that Damar Hamlin can have the same outcome that I was fortunate to have with my incident," Pronger tweeted on Tuesday. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Damar, his family, teammates and the greater NFL community during this incredibly scary time."

Pronger collapsed and suffered commotio cordis when a puck struck his chest during a 1998 Stanley Cup playoffs game when he was a member of the St. Louis Blues. Commotio cordis is when a person experiences a trauma to their chest that can cause additional waves of electricity to pass through their heart muscle. Those waves can throw off the heart's normal rhythm, which can potentially be deadly.

Pronger was unconscious for an estimated 20 seconds and ended up spending the night in the hospital. Once he woke up, he didn't have any recollection of what happened, but was back on the ice four days later.

The physical defenseman was able to resume his career and played for an additional 13 seasons following the scary incident. Following Pronger's incident, the NHL ended up moving team doctors closer to the bench for emergency situations.

In an interview with CBS Sports, Dr. Aaron Baggish, who is a team cardiologist for the New England Patriots, stated that commotio cordis could've potentially been what Hamlin suffered.

"The diagnosis of commotio cordis, for example [which refers to a fatal disruption of the heart rhythm from a blow to the chest], is what we call a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning other things have been eliminated," Baggish said. "We would never conclude that unless other factors have been ruled out."

Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during the first quarter of Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 24-year old had tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins and even gotten back up after making the tackle. He stood up for a few seconds before falling backwards, which resulted in the game being suspended.

Hamlin remains in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital. However, the Bills released a statement on Thursday morning stating that he had shown "remarkable improvement" over the past 24 hours. 

"Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours," the Bills said. "While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress."