Michael Schumacher’s hopes of making a full recovery from his high-speed ski crash in late December are fading with every passing day.
It’s now been two months since the Formula One legend suffered a concussion at the Meribel ski resort, and the 45-year-old still remains at the near-by University Hospital Center in Grenoble, France.
Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma since the end of December, and despite the fact that doctors revealed his condition had slightly improved in the days after the incident his family haven’t provided an update on his diagnosis in weeks. Instead, hospital officials have repeatedly informed the press that his condition is “unchanged.”
Because of this Gary Hartstein, an American anesthesiologist based in Belgium who was also the head of Formula One’s medical unit between 2005 and 2012, has told the New York Times that he is gravely concerned for the German’s recovery.
“If they’re not releasing good news because there is none, then that’s very bad news indeed,” Harstein noted. “After eight weeks, if there’s no sign of waking, what most people would do is unplug.”
Despite this horrifying prognosis, doctors are continuing their attempts to bring Schumacher out of his coma. They are doing this by slowly lowering the amount of drugs in his system, which will then allow his brain time to heal.
As they enter the third week of trying to bring out of his slumber doctors are hoping to see eye movements from Schumacher, while they are also hoping to gather a sense that he understands his environment.
Dr. Luca Regli, the head of neurosurgery at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland, explained, “This usually takes between two and four weeks. The second step is more complex and longer. The patient slowly begins to recognise his environment and reacts accordingly. This phase can take days, weeks, or even months. It is different for every patient with different injuries.”
According to the Mirror, he then added, “In an ideal case the patient attains a minimal awareness and then completely recovers. If this second step is unsuccessful we speak of a waking coma in which the patient opens his eyes but is unaware of his environment.”
However he also conceded that recovery needs to analysed on a case by case basis, stating, “We don’t yet know where Schumacher is at. That he has still not regained full consciousness is in proportion to the severity of the trauma. We cannot predict today the duration and the extent of the recovery. Waking up from a coma is different for everyone.”
Seven-time Grand Prix world champion Schumacher underwent two operations to remove blood clots from his brain immediately after the accident, however more inoperable clots were then spotted deeper inside his brain, which threatened his hopes of survival.