DOCTORS treating the injured Formula One champion Michael Schumacher are slowly bringing him out of his induced coma, his manager has said.
They are reducing the 45-year-old’s sedation, which will allow the “waking-up process” to begin, Sabine Kehm said.
The seven-times world champion has spent the past month in the University of Grenoble hospital fighting for his life after sustaining serious brain injuries following a skiing accident in the resort of Meribel.
Concern had been growing as to whether he would ever make a recovery, or even wake again, but Ms Kehm yesterday confirmed that steps were under way to bring him out of his coma following the accident on 29 December.
A statement read: “Michael’s sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking-up process, which may take a long time.” She added: “For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated.
“The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting for their privacy, and the medical secret, to be respected, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work.
“At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the sympathy they have received from around the world.”
Schumacher was being kept artificially sedated and his body temperature was lowered to between 34C and 35C, to suppress swelling in the brain and lower its energy consumption to allow it to rest.
However, while the news represents progress, Professor Peter Hutchinson, a neurosurgeon at the University of Cambridge, warned that it would be premature to read too much into the developments.
“It’s a step that needs to be taken at this stage,” he said.
“He has been in an induced coma for a long time. It’s unusual for it to be a month – typically it’s much shorter than that, perhaps seven to ten days – but the French do tend to keep people under sedation for longer than we would. At some point, you have to reverse that.
“I think in terms of how he’s going to be, it would be a week before it would be clearer. He still has the potential for a favourable outcome.
“He’s fit, he’s relatively young compared to some of the head injuries we treat and he was conscious immediately afterwards which suggests it’s not a devastating brain injury.”
Some reports have claimed that Schumacher began responding to basic instructions as he was being brought out of his coma, but that remains unconfirmed.
His wife Corinna has been maintaining a constant bedside vigil.