Racing driver showing encouraging signs

The seven-times Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher is “showing moments of awakening” after three months in a coma in a hospital in Grenoble, his manager revealed today.

Previous updates on Schumacher’s condition had spoken of the motor racing legend showing signs of responding to stimulus. Today’s statement implies that he has progressed beyond that stage but medical precedents suggest that, after three months in a coma, his chances of complete recovery are slight.

Schumacher crashed head first into a rock while skiing off-piste at Meribel in the French Alps on 29 December last year. He has been in a coma at Grenoble University Hospital since.

Career in Pictures: Michael Schumacher
The 45-year-old has undergone two operations to reduce pressure on his brain caused by swelling and remove haematomas, and the news today comes as his first significant improvement since effort began at the end of January to awaken Schumacher.

Schumacher’s manager said no further details of his conditions would be released at this stage.

The German was skiing with his son between three and eight metres from the piste when his skis struck a rock hidden in the snow. He was projected for two to three metres and his head struck another rock. His helmet was split in two by the force of the collision.

What is a Medically induced coma?

Can be induced by powerful anaesthetics and is broadly similar to the sedation and artificial ventilation used during surgery.

Used to shut down many brain functions, lowering blood flow and pressure.

Taking a patient out of an induced coma is a delicate process, especially after a prolonged period of sedation
Doctors and relatives are looking for any signs of returning consciousness and recovery.

Last month Schumacher’s relatives said in a statement that he had been showing “small, encouraging signs”.

Investigators probing the accident said Schumacher had been going at the speed of “a very good skier” at the time of his crash in the resort of Meribel.

He had been skiing off-piste when he fell and hit a rock, investigators said.

Experts reconstructed events leading up to the crash after examining Schumacher’s skiing equipment and viewing footage filmed on a camera attached to his helmet.

Schumacher retired from racing in 2012 after a 19-year career.

He won two titles with Benetton, in 1994 and 1995, before switching to Ferrari in 1996 and going on to win five straight titles from 2000.

Source: The Independent, The BBC