F1 legend Michael Schumacher 'out of coma'

  • Published
Media caption,

The BBC's Christian Fraser takes a look back at what happened to the F1 star

F1 champion Michael Schumacher has left hospital in Grenoble and is no longer in a coma, his family says.

The 45-year-old has been transferred to Lausanne university hospital in Switzerland, officials there say.

Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma after suffering a severe head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps on 29 December.

His family thanked people who had sent messages of support, saying: "We are sure it helped him."

They also praised the "excellent job" of medical staff at the hospital in Grenoble, in south-east France.

Doctors had kept the seven-time champion in a coma to help reduce swelling in his brain.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Michael Schumacher had been treated at Grenoble's University Hospital Centre in the French Alps

"Michael has left the CHU Grenoble to continue his long phase of rehabilitation. He is not in a coma anymore," Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, said in a statement on behalf of his family on Monday.

"For the future we ask for understanding that his further rehabilitation will take place away from the public eye," she said, without giving further details.

Relatives have previously warned that "it was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael".

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva reports that the university hospital in Lausanne is one of Switzerland's most renowned.

He will have a team of specialists, and his own private accommodation, and he will be much closer to his family home on the shores of Lake Geneva, our correspondent says.

But it is not clear what Schumacher's condition is and his process of recovery is still expected to be a long one, she adds.

Monday's statement was the first substantial update since early April when Ms Kehm said the German racing driver was showing "moments of consciousness and awakening."

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

Neurosurgeon Tony Belli told the BBC that rehabilitation from this sort of injury could take months or years.

"We know that some people can spend three, four years in rehabilitation," he said. "It depends very much on the severity of the injury, how young and fit they are."

Meanwhile, the German football team sent their wishes to the F1 legend from the World Cup in Brazil at the weekend.

Lukas Podolski, the Arsenal striker, told a news conference: "I'd like to greet a good friend, who unfortunately is unable to be here. He is Michael Schumacher.

"He is just as crazy about football as all of us. We wish his family a lot of strength. If we win the title, that would be something that would make him happy."

Michael Schumacher

Image source, AP
  • Born: 3 January 1969
  • First GP win: Belgium 1992
  • Last GP win: China 2006
  • Races started: 303
  • Wins: 91 (155 podium finishes)
  • Championships: 7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

The BBC's James Allen says the reaction from the F1 world has been enormously positive on one level, but the lack of specific details about his condition has left a question mark for many people.

The Mercedes team, for which Schumacher raced in the last three years of his career, posted on Twitter: "Encouraging news on Michael's condition this morning. We couldn't ask for a better start to the week."

Ferrari's Renato Bisignani told the BBC: "My reaction is one of overwhelming joy. There is not one day when we haven't thought of Michael, followed his progress and remembered him."

Investigators probing last December's 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.

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.