Schumacher condition shows 'encouraging signs'
Injured Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher has been showing "small, encouraging signs" in his fight for recovery, his family says.
"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up," the relatives said in a statement.
Doctors in France have been working to bring the seven-time champion out of a medically induced coma.
The 45-year-old German suffered a severe head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps on 29 December.
He has been kept in a coma to help reduce the swelling in his brain.'Hard fight'
On Wednesday, Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, released a statement on behalf of his family because of "an increasing interest in [his] condition in light of the start of the Formula 1 season".
Medically induced coma
- Can be induced by powerful anaesthetics and is broadly similar to the sedation and artificial ventilation used during surgery
- Used to shut down many brain functions, lowering blood flow and pressure
- Taking a patient out of an induced coma is a delicate process, especially after a prolonged period of sedation
- Doctors and relatives are looking for any signs of returning consciousness and recovery
The family praised the efforts of the French doctors at Grenoble hospital, but also warned that "it was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael."
"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up. There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know that this is the time to be very patient," the statement added.
Investigators probing the accident said Schumacher had been going at the speed of "a very good skier" at the time of his crash in the resort of Meribel.
He had been skiing off-piste when he fell and hit a rock, investigators said.
Experts reconstructed events leading up to the crash after examining Schumacher's skiing equipment and viewing footage filmed on a camera attached to his helmet.
Schumacher retired from racing in 2012 after a 19-year career.
He won two titles with Benetton, in 1994 and 1995, before switching to Ferrari in 1996 and going on to win five straight titles from 2000.
Family statement in full:
"We are and remain confident that Michael will pull through and will wake up. There sometimes are small, encouraging signs, but we also know that this is the time to be very patient.
Michael has suffered severe injuries. It is very hard to comprehend for all of us that Michael, who had overcome a lot of precarious situations in the past, has been hurt so terribly in such a banal situation.
It was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael. We are taking this fight on together with the team of doctors, whom we fully trust. The length of the process is not the important part for us.
It is heart-warming to see how much sympathy his family is shown and I can say that the family is extremely grateful for it. However, it should not be forgotten that Michael's family is dealing with an extremely intimate and fragile situation. And I would like to remind all of us that Michael has always actively kept his family out of the public eye and consequently protected their private lives.
We try to channel all the energies we have toward Michael and we firmly believe that this will help him. And we believe that he will also win this fight."