Michael Schumacher latest: Former F1 doctor Gary Harstein warns fans must 'prepare for the worst' after no improvement in driver's condition

Attempts to awaken the seven-time world champion remain on-going but Dr Hartstein believes the longer it takes, the less likely Schumacher is to recover at all

Former Formula 1 chief doctor Dr Gary Hartstein has warned that fans must prepare themselves “for the worst” news as attempts to awaken Michael Schumacher continue following his horrific ski accident.

Schumacher suffered serious brain injuries after hitting his head on a rock when skiing off-piste in the exclusive French resort of Meribel at the end of December, with attempts to bring him out of his medically-induced coma now in an eighth week.

The 45-year-old’s manager Sabine Kehm confirmed 13 days ago that attempts to awaken the seven-time world champion are continuing and will do for “as long as it takes”, warning that it can be a very long and drawn out process.

However, Dr Hartstein – who was a key figure in the paddock until the end of the 2012 season – has admitted that the longer it takes, the less likely it is that Schumacher will ever recover.

Writing on his personal blog, the American said: “As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent.”

 

A number of tributes and messages of support have been passed on in the hope that Schumacher will recover, and the support across the globe is not a surprise for the 58-year-old Professor.

“I always knew Michael was adored,” Dr Hartstein continued.

“I spent years at circuits drenched in red by the Ferrari caps, flags, and shirts, and all of that for Michael. I'm still staggered by the depth and persistence of his fans' love for him.

“And whereas I worried more than a bit about what was going to happen when and if really bad news got announced, I've realised that perhaps the lack of status updates has given us all a chance to move on a bit, to process what's happening, and to start to... detach.”

Mercedes dedicate Australian GP win to Schumacher

Reports earlier today claimed that Schumacher had lost up to 25 per cent of his body weight due to muscle atrophy, a condition common when patients are in a deep coma as their muscles are not being used.

Dr Hartstein said that it is "entirely possible and, in fact, probable” that Schumacher had lost a significant amount of weight.

“Happily, the consequences are not particularly dramatic, at least immediately,” he added.

“To be blunt, a patient in coma doesn’t really NEED his or her muscles . . . with the exception of the diaphragm. The diaphragm, which like the heart is pretty much always active, resists atrophy rather better than other muscles, but it does atrophy.

“And having a machine doing the breathing for you is one of the best ways to see how disuse atrophy affects the diaphragm too. Unfortunately, and assuming (as I have until now) that Michael is being ventilated by a respirator, there is probably some degree of diaphragmatic atrophy at this point."

Schumacher showing 'small, encouraging signs of improvement', say family

Dr Hartstein went on to describe Schumacher’s current state as a “persistent coma”, and mentioned the “severe ramifications” that a lengthy period of time in a coma can cause.

“As mentioned previously, the longer one remains in a vegetative state, the less the likelihood of emerging, and the higher the chances of severe ramifications if the patient does in fact emerge,” Dr Hartstein wrote.

“Most definitions consider the vegetative state to be permanent one year after the injury.

“Patients who are in a persistent/permanent vegetative state have lifespans that are measured in months to a few years. This depends on baseline function (extraordinary in the case of Michael, of course), the quality of nursing care, and other imponderables. They usually die of respiratory or urinary infections. Longer survivals have been described, but are exceptional.”

Read More: Vettel pays tribute to Schumacher with special Aus GP helmet
'Experience' gives Schumacher chance to 'show his character', claims Hamilton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game