Retired Formula 1 race car Michael Schumacher is gradually being brought out of his month-long coma “to allow the start of the waking up process,” his manager has reported to international media outlets, including the French newspaper, L’Equipe.
Schumacher, 45, suffered a severe head injury Dec. 29 when he fell and hit a rock while skiing in the French Alps.
Surgeons performed two operations to remove blood clots around his brain. The coma was induced to help reduce and control swelling in the brain.
The process of reducing sedation and bringing Schumacher out of the coma “may take a long time,” his manager said.
The French newspaper quoted doctors who said there have been “encouraging signs” from recent neurological tests.
But Professor Gary Hartstein, Formula 1’s chief medic between 2005 and 2012, and Dr. Colin Shieff, neurosurgeon at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, expressed concerns, according to a report on National Public Radio.
“It is extremely unlikely, and I’d honestly say virtually impossible, that the Michael we knew prior to this fall will ever be back,” said Harstein.
“It is generally accepted that the longer a patient is in a reduced state of consciousness, the less likely they are to make a good recovery,” said Shieff. “It is still possible to regain consciousness, but this is far from certain.’ ”
Schumacher is the winningest driver in F1 history with 91 career titles.