Michael Schumacher, the seven-time F1 champion, will likely remain an “invalid” for a long time–even the rest of his life, a report is claiming.
Last Monday, Schumacher was taken from the university hospital in Grenoble, France, where he had been in a coma for the past six months. Schumacher, 45, was taken to a rehab clinic in Lausanne.
He suffered brain injuries during a fall while he was skiing in the French Alps.
His manager, Sabine Kehm, said he’s not in an artificial coma any longer, saying he will undertake the “long process” of rehabilitation.
However, Dr. Erich Reiderer–who has experience with coma patients–said that Schumacher’s road to recovery looks rocky.
“He will remain an invalid all his life and will always remain dependent on the help of others,” he told 20 Minuten, according to EuroSport.com. “To form complete sentences, should be difficult – he will learn individual words,” he said.
Reiderer said the damage will be “permanent” and it will be a success if he manages to sit up without aid in three months. If he can operate an electric wheelchair in six months, it will also be encouraging, he said, according to The Independent.
“It is an incredibly positive message when someone wakes up after being in a coma for half a year,” he also said. “For him it is positive, but also for his family, this is hugely important.”
Over recent months, little information has been released on Schumacher’s condition. Monday’s announcement was the first substantial update since Kehm said in early April that Schumacher “shows moments of consciousness and awakening.”
The 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,” Kehm’s latest statement said.
“The family also wishes to thank all the people who have sent Michael all the many good wishes. … We are sure it helped him,” it added. “For the future we ask for understanding that his further rehabilitation will take place away from the public eye,” it added.
Much remains unclear about Schumacher’s future as well as the length and extent of his recovery.
“If he’s been released from the hospital he was in, it means he’s able to support his own breathing and bodily functions,” said Dr. Tipu Aziz, a professor of neurosurgery at Oxford University’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
The fact that Schumacher is going into rehabilitation “suggests there’s been long-term side effects of his injury,” he added.
“With rehabilitation, they’ll try to train him to cope with the disabilities that he’s got to achieve as much life function as possible,” Aziz said. “If he’s had a brain injury, he may have weakness in his limbs secondary to loss of brain function. He may have problems with speech and swallowing.”
He said that “rehabilitation would probably take a good few months” but noted that Schumacher was an athlete before his accident “so was in good shape.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.