A year on from his life-changing skiing accident, Michael Schumacher’s manager has reiterated that the former F1 world champion faces a “long fight” in his recovery.
Schumacher suffered severe head injuries during the accident a year ago in the French Alps. The helmet which the German was wearing at the time of his crash split in two upon impact and has been credited with saving his life.
After five months at Grenoble Hospital in southern France, it was announced in June that the seven-time world champion was no longer in a coma and had been transferred to Lausanne Hospital in Switzerland. Schumacher then returned home in September to what is believed to be a specially-constructed medical unit at the family’s base on the shore of Lake Geneva.
Scant details about Schumacher’s condition have been released over the last 12 months, with the last official update from Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s long-time manager, issued in September stating: “Considering the severe head injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months. There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead.”
Philippe Streiff, a former F1 driver who was paralysed in a testing accident in 1989, recently told the French media that Schumacher “had yet to recover the power of speech” but was “starting to recognise those close to him”.
However, speaking to Reuters, Kehm denounced the reports as “factually wrong”, before adding: “We need a long time. It’s going to be a long time and a hard fight. He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation.”
Schumacher, who drove for Ferrari and Mercedes during his record-breaking F1 career, will turn 46 on January 3.
Michael Schumacher accident timeline:
December 29 2013: Michael hits his head on rocks while skiing with friends and his 14-year-old son near the French resort of Meribel. He is transferred to Grenoble Hospital suffering “a severe head injury with coma on arrival, which required immediate neurosurgical intervention”.
December 30: At a press conference at Grenoble Hospital, doctors describe Schumacher’s condition as being “extremely serious”. A second operation, lasting two hours, is carried out in order to reduce the swelling on his brain.
December 31: Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s manager, accuses a “journalist dressed as a priest” of attempting to gain access to his hospital room.
January 4 2014: With Schumacher remaining in a medically-induced coma, a statement from the hospital describes his condition as “critical but stable”.
January 8: An initial investigation into the crash concludes that speed “did not appear to be an important factor” and finds that Schumacher was around eight metres off piste when he hit his head on a rock. Schumacher’s wife, Corinna, pleads with the media to “please leave our family in peace”.
January 30: In the first official update from Schumacher’s family in almost a month, it is revealed that ‘Michael’s sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time’.
February 17: Prosecutors in France close their investigation into the crash, ruling: “No one was found to have committed any offence.”
March 12: Schumacher’s family thank fans for their support and reveal that “there sometimes are small, encouraging signs”.
April 4: A new statement from Schumacher’s family describes Michael as showing “moments of consciousness and awakening”.
June 18: It is officially confirmed that Schumacher is no longer in a coma and has left the intensive care unit at Grenoble Hospital “to continue his long phase of rehabilitation”. It is subsequently learnt that Schumacher has been transferred to the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland.
June 24: Kehm reveals that files purported to contain Schumacher’s medical details have been stolen and offered for sale.
July 18: In the programme notes for the German GP, Corinna thanks fans for their messages of support and states: “Now we are facing a phase which will presumably take a long time. We trust that time will be Michael’s ally in the fight.”
September 9: Schumacher leaves Lausanne Hospital to continue his rehabilitation at home. “Considering the severe head injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months. There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead,” says Kehm.
November 13: Schumacher’s website is reopened to mark the 20th anniversary of his first F1 title.