Schumacher unlikely to make a full recovery warn neurologists

Motorsports: FIA Formula One World Championship 2012, Grand Prix of Europe

Nearly two months after Michael Schumacher suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident, neurologists say that the seven-time Formula 1 champion is unlikely to make a full recovery.

The 45-year-old Schumacher fell while skiing in France and hit the right side of his head on a rock, cracking his helmet. Doctors operated to remove several blood clots from his brain but some were left in place, because they were too deeply embedded.

Schumacher’s condition stabilized after he was placed in the coma. Late last month, doctors began the process of withdrawing sedatives to try to wake him up.

His spokesperson, Sabine Kehm, said in an email that “Michael is still in the wake-up phase” and that “this phase can be long.” Schumacher’s family has released few details of his condition to protect his privacy.

“It does not bode well,” said Dr. Tipu Aziz, professor of neurosurgery at Oxford University who is not connected to Schumacher’s care. “The fact that he hasn’t woken up implies that the injury has been extremely severe and that a full recovery is improbable.”

Patients who have had major head injuries are sometimes put in a drug-induced coma to give the brain a chance to heal; a coma reduces the need for blood flow and may help the swelling go down.

Dr Aziz said doctors typically try every few days to bring someone out of a coma.

“If you don’t start getting any positive signs, that becomes very worrisome,” he said, adding that Schumacher’s doctors are probably doing regular brain scans to look for signs of activity – though such signs may be difficult to detect if he is still being sedated.

“About 90 percent of the recovery is made within nine to 12 months, so this is still early days,” said Dr. Anthony Strong, an emeritus chair in neurosurgery at King’s College London. “The longer someone is in a coma, the worse their recovery tends to be.”

Now that several weeks have passed since the accident, doctors may also have a better idea of how the rest of Schumacher’s brain is doing.

“MRI scans can show any secondary deterioration in the brain structure,” said Dr. Colin Shieff, a neurosurgeon at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and a trustee for Headway, a British brain injury charity.

He said that other parts of Schumacher’s brain that weren’t directly affected by the accident might now be starting to show worrying signs that may not have been visible before.

Shieff said that if Schumacher does eventually come out of the coma, he probably would face significant disabilities because of the length of time he has already spent comatose.

While there have been rare instances of people emerging from comas months and years later with the ability to communicate, Shieff was doubtful that would be the case with Schumacher.

He said the cases where comatose people made a surprising recovery had mostly suffered things like poisoning, strokes or failed resuscitation attempts. (Associated Press)

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  • TheDudeson

    Speculation, speculation, speculation – FORZA SCHUMIE

  • Mellow Jessica

    Firstly, I really hope Michael recovers and am heartbroken already by the thought of him wasting away in that hospital, his body’s vitality ebbing despite access to the best care.

    However, if Sabine Kehm would desist from her cynical effort to embargo all news on Schumacher’s condition and downplay the lack of progress on his recovery, then millions of loyal fans wouldn’t be susceptible to such speculation.

    The public does not have any legal right to information on Michael’s condition, and of course his family has a formal legal right to certain privacy protections. However, there is a strong case to be made for our moral right to be told the truth (in the most general and not uncouth way) about Michael’s condition, now matter how shattering this news will be.

    It’s disingenuous for Kelm to continue blaming Schumacher’s family’s desire for “privacy” for why they continue to treat w/ contempt the millions of fans whose support over the years led in no small amt. to Michael becoming a superstar, and his family amassing wealth beyond all reasonableness.

    At this point, if it’s more likely than not that Michael is not going to make anywhere close to a reasonably complete recovery (and by all publicly-available measure/speculation, that seems to be the likely outcome), then for god’s sake, tell us so WE can begin the process of grieving and release these unrealistic hopes.

    While I appreciate the sentiment behind your shouts of “FORZA!” and likewise the Twitter hashtag Mercedes AMG Petronas is running on their cars, I fear that Michael’s recovery is in God’s hands now, and there’s nothing we can do…nothing that Michael’s spirit can do to heal his body, either.

    In the absence of compelling (official) evidence to the contrary, I think we should stop deluding ourselves and start the painful process of coming to terms with the idea that Michael as we knew him is gone and he may be in a persistent vegetative state…

    I hope I’m wrong. And I seek not to hurt Schumacher family – at all. But I wonder why Corinna does not value the feelings and even the emotional well-being of the millions who have been passionate, loyal fans and supporters of her husband for many years?

  • Mellow Jessica

    Have there been any official updates in the past five days? I don’t think so, right? :(

  • ScottyDog

    Wow seriously? I get your a concerned fan we all are, but I value his and his families privacy during this time. You think its hard for you? How do you think it is for them? Sabine has been Michael’s longtime spokesperson/media manager, she knows him extremely well and he trusts her with his dealings with the media. She is the best person to be thinking about what Michael would want right now. As a fan these type of reports piss me off, but they’re not official so I don’t care, its just a bunch of ‘experts’ basically taking pot shots to get their name in the paper. If you seek not to hurt Michael’s family then don’t make comments about his wife not valuing the feelings and emotional well-being of a whole bunch of people who actually don’t know her husband. Its going to be a long process, and his family have the right to deal with this in private. Maybe you need to jump more on board with the ongoing support via social media for Shumi, rather than getting pissed that you don’t know anything, someone who is completely and entirely unrelated to him or his family. People have the right to suffer and recover in privacy regardless of whether they are famous or not.