Michael Schumacher, seven-time Formula One champion, may soon be able to see his family and fans after suffering severe head injury, as doctors begin the delicate process of waking him out of induced coma. His manager, Sabine Kehm, confirmed that doctors in the University of Grenoble hospital are slowly waking up after noticing positive signs from body, especially his brain.
The 45-year-old champion suffered severe injuries to his head when he fell off from the ski course and hit the right side of his head on a rock in the French resort of Meribel on December 29, 2013. Even since, he has been fighting for his life.
Surgeons performed two operations to remove blood clots in Schumacher’s brain. Afterwards, doctors kept him artificially sedated and lowered his body temperature to the range of 93.2 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in order to decrease swelling in his brain, reduce brain activity, and thus help brain to relax. Until his manager’s statement, there was no news on his medical conditions; doctors in Grenoble still refuse to provide any prognosis for his conditions in the coming weeks and months.
There were growing concerns that Schumacher might never wake up. The news of him being brought out of coma indicates that his doctors now see a window of opportunity to find out whether he can start recovery process without damaging his already fragile brain. Experts agree that this is definitely a good sign for him, Fox News reports. However, they caution that waking Schumacher out of induce coma is a very delicate process to begin with; the first 24 hours would be critical for doctors to assess damages done to his brain better.
Dr. Clemens Pahl, a brain trauma expert at King’s College hospital in London, told Fox News that if a patient has not recuperated enough to wake up on his own, doctors may have to induce him back to coma. He added that a patient’s inability to wake up for the first time after severe brain injury is not uncommon, and that it takes numerous attempts to bring one out of induced coma.
Even if Schumacher wakes up from coma however, he will not return to a normal condition in any time soon. Doctors would like to see whether he can breathe on his own, whether he can move his limbs, whether he can feel any mild pain, whether he knows his surroundings, and whether he remembers his family and friends. Dr. Anthony Strong, an emeritus chair in neurosurgery at King’s College London, stated that doctors would love to see Schumacher greet them with “hello.” Even then, experts indicate that it would take several months for doctors to provide solid prognosis on his condition.
Experts also agree that Schumacher will not return to his former self. With his unique and sometimes ferocious driving skill, he racked up 91 wins with seven Formula One champion titles with Benetton-Ford and Ferrari teams. He holds so many records that the official Formula One calls him “statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen.” Even though he retired in 2012 from the active racing, his name has been associated with the Formula One and still attracts admirers around the world, including current champion Sebastian Vettel, who reveres Schumacher since his youth.
Even if Schumacher wakes from induced coma after doctors complete the process and becomes conscious, it is unclear as to what to be expected from the Formula One legend. For now, many fans just want to see him say hello to them.
By Jonathan JY Jung