Michael Schumacher: F1 driver unlikely to make full recovery despite coming out of coma say medical experts

The retired racing driver has woken up from his coma

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The Independent Online

Former champion racing driver Michael Schumacher has only a one in ten chance of a full recovery despite his emergence from a coma, medical experts warned.

The seven-time Formula One champion left the hospital in Grenoble in the French Alps where he has been treated since he suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident on 29 December. He was transferred to the Vaud university hospital at Lausanne, in Switzerland, close to his family home.

His manager, Sabine Kehm, said Mr Schumacher, 45, had been removed from the artificially induced coma in which he had spent most of the last five months. He would now “continue his long phase of rehabilitation”. She offered no further information on his condition.

French medical experts, speaking off the record, said that it was a good sign that Schumacher had been judged capable of making the journey to the new hospital. This implied, they said, that he had achieved at least a “minimal” state of consciousness.

But they warned that only one in ten patients who spent so many months in a coma went on to recover all or most of their mental and physical capacities.

Schumacher suffered serious brain injuries on 29 December while skiing with his son Mick at Meribel in the French Alps. One of his skis struck a hidden rock just after he had turned off the official piste. He was flung several metres through the air and struck his head against another rocky outcrop, splitting his helmet in two.

The retired racing driver underwent two brain operations and was placed in an artificial coma at the Grenoble university hospital. In April it was announced that Mr Schumacher showed “moments of consciousness and awakening”.

His manager, Ms Kehm, said that Mr Schumacher’s family “would like to explicitly thank all his treating doctors, nurses and therapists in Grenoble as well as the first aiders at the place of the accident, who did an excellent job in those first months.”

She added: “For the future we ask for understanding that his further rehabilitation will take place away from the public eye.”

There have been persistent rumours in recent days that Schumacher was to be removed from the Grenoble hospital and brought to a specially equipped room at his home between Lausanne and Geneva. French medical experts said that the Formula One champion would now undergo intensive tests and exercises to try to help him to recover his bodily and mental functions.

Earlier this month, Gary Hartstein, the former medical adviser to the international automobile federation, wrote in his blog that Mr Schumacher was unlikely to make a full recovery.

“I am afraid I am almost certain that we will never have good news of  Michael Schumacher,” he wrote. After so many months in a coma, only a small fraction of patients recover consciousness, he said.

Even if - as seemed likely – Mr Schumacher had returned to “minimal consciousness”, the statistic were against him, Dr Hartstein said. He might be able to achieve a greater level of consciousness “in the months and years ahead” but it would take a “miracle” for him to recover completely.

“Unfortunately, very few patients who have been in a vegetative state for six months can ever speak, walk or dress themselves again.”