Schumacher: do 'moments of consciousness' mean recovery?
Latest news on condition of F1 legend is 'superb' but his chances remain slight
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER is showing "moments of consciousness and awakening" as the process to bring him out of a coma continues, his agent said today.
The seven-time Formula 1 champion has been in hospital in Grenoble, France, since suffering a serious head injury while skiing in the Alps in December.
Updates on his condition have been few and far between, but the latest news, from his manager Sabine Kehm, is "the most dramatic and optimistic official information for weeks", according The Times.
The motor-racing legend was placed in an induced coma after the crash, but doctors began reducing the sedatives in a bid to bring him round at the end of January. Until today, there appeared to have been little improvement in his condition.
Last month Schumacher's family said he had been showing "small, encouraging signs" of coming round, but the lack of information on his progress since then had prompted some to predict the worst.
And while the latest news is positive, The Independent warns: "Medical precedents suggest that, after three months in a coma, his chances of complete recovery are slight."
Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein, who said last month that there was "less and less" that the 45-year-old would ever emerge from the coma, says the latest news is "superb".
He explains that it is use of the word "consciousness" that offers the most encouragement.
"Wakefulness without consciousness is the definition of a vegetative state," he says. "The eyes are open, but there's no interaction with the environment."
However, if he is conscious of his surroundings it means "he is, in some very real way, here," adds Hartstein. "It means his life expectancy has now improved very significantly. And last, but perhaps most important, it opens up a very real chance for further improvement."
Schumacher's agent also reiterated his family's pleas for privacy, after rubbishing reports that his wife Corinne has spent £10m converting their home in Switzerland into a facility where he could be cared for in the long term.