Michael Schumacher to be brought out of coma slowly as 'waking up process' begins
Michael Schumacher is slowly being brought out of his medically induced coma as he begins to show signs of a recovery, his manager Sabine Kehm has confirmed.
Media outlets in Germany, England, France and Italy claimed that the 45-year-old German was gradually being brought out of the artificial coma.
Despite Kehm, who has kept the media updated with official statements on his condition throughout the last month, initially labelling the rumours as “speculation”, she has now confirmed that he will slowly be brought out of his coma by doctors treating him.
"Michael’s sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take long time," Kehm confirmed.
'The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting to respect its privacy and the medical secret, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work. At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the world-wide sympathy.
"For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated. Please note that no further updates will be given."
Doctors are continuing to treat the seven-time world champion after he suffered the fall while skiing off-piste in the French resort of Meribel, which led to Schumacher undergoing two operations to reduce swelling on the brain and remove haematomas that had formed due to the severe damage he suffered.
Schumacher is being treated at the Grenoble University Hospital where fans carried out a silent vigil in support of the former Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes driver, while in Belgium on Sunday there was another tribute to the most successful racer of all time as fans marched around the famous Spa-Franchorchamps circuit – where he made his debut back in 1991 and took an unmatched six victories.
There remains hope that he could yet fight through the ordeal and make a full recovery, but leading brain injury specialist Dr Richard Greenwood warned earlier this month that an injury of this kind will mean his personality will have changed.
“If Schumacher survives, he will not be Schumacher,” said Dr Greenwood.
“He will be [Joe] Bloggs. His rehabilitation will only be effective if he comes to terms with being Bloggs.
“That is a very, very hard process to take people through. They need to come to terms with their limitations — the fact they have changed.”
Former F1 doctor Professor Gary Hartstein has also warned that is it “extremely unlikely” that Schumacher will make a full recovery if he pulls through, though described his condition as encouraging.
Hartstein was a key figure in the F1 paddock from 1997 onwards as he aided Professor Sid Watkins with medical care – having worked at Spa from 1990 – before he was selected to take over from Watkins on a permanent basis.
He presided over Schumacher’s dominant reign when he won five consecutive championships between 2000 and 2004, and maintained his presence when Schumacher made his comeback in 2010 until his eventual retirement in 2012.
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Hartstein said: “The fact that he is still sedated and not in an unsedated coma is better news than I expected.”
And as pre-season testing got underway this week in Jerez for the 2014 season, the Ferrari team issued another message of support for their former racer, who remains a hero to the Tifosi due to the success he brought to the Italian manufacturer.
A statement on their website read: “Dear Michael, having spent so many years at Ferrari, you became one of us. You thrilled us so often, bringing us great joy, but the greatest one is yet to come: namely seeing you here in Maranello again, to meet your second family, the Ferrari one.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital