Michael Schumacher health improves: Formula 1 star ‘shows signs that give us encouragement’, says his manager

Manager Sabine Kehm says that she is positive about his recovery

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The Independent Online

Michael Schumacher could be on the road to recovery.

His manager, Sabine Kehm, revealed that his health is improving.

"I can only say again: There are signs that give us encouragement," she said.

She also dismissed speculation that the Formula 1 driver's family are planning on turning his Swiss home into a £10 million hospital as his health dwindles, apparently masterminded by his wife, Corinna.

"The rumours that Corinna remodels her house to bring the supposedly 'hopeless case Michael' home, are absolutely groundless," it was reported in The Mirror.

Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma since December. He suffered serious head injuries after hitting his head on a rock while skiing in a French ski resort.

If his medical state were to improve, it is expected that would be moved from his hospital in Grenoble to a rehabilitation clinic. Kehm's comments reaffirm her statement made in March that he is still in "the wake up phase", when she said that "any medical information published which is not confirmed by the team of doctors treating Michael or his management has to be considered as not valid."

Her quotes conflict with the views of former Formula 1 chief doctor Dr Gary Hartstein, who wrote on his blog last week that the situation is still grave, describing Schumacher's current state as "persistent coma".

"As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent," Hartstein said.

 "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,"

"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."

Yesterday, press coverage of Schumacher's health reached an ethical low, as German publication Die Aktuelle published a front-page picture of the F1 champion smiling with his wife, along with the accompanying and misleading headline "Awake!" However, the wording actually referred to other coma victims who had recovered.

Understandably, the magazine attracted criticism from the public, although is yet to make a comment.