Michael Schumacher being slowly woken up from induced coma - French media reports
Michael Schumacher, the Formula 1 legend, is gradually being "woken up" from a medically induced coma by doctors a month after his near fatal skiing accident in the French Alps, according to L'Equipe, the French sports daily.
Mr Schumacher's spokeswoman asked the public not to pay attention to "speculation" but did not deny the report.
The seven-time world champion was placed in an artificially induced coma after he struck a rock while skiing off-piste in the resort of Meribel four weeks ago. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital and received emergency brain surgery.
Last week his spokesman said he was still in a critical, but stable condition. On Wednesday, L'Equipe reported that Mr Schumacher had "reacted positively" to the process begun this week at the CHU hospital in the south west city of Grenoble, where he's been since the December 29 fall.
Sabine Kehm, Mr Schumacher's manager, did not deny the L'Equipe report, but urged fans to ignore anything other than official comments on his health.
"I am stressing again any statement regarding Michael's health not coming from the doctors treating him, or from his management, must be considered as speculation," she said. "I repeat, we will not comment on any speculation."
"Michael's condition is still considered as stable," she told Le Dauphiné Libéré, a local newspaper. "I also repeat that Michael's family is very happy and confident with the work of the team of doctors treating Michael, and they trust them completely."
Surgeons have performed two operations to remove blood clots around Mr Schumacher's brain. He has been kept asleep to reduce swelling.
Doctors in Grenoble have ruled out giving a prognosis for his condition in the coming days and months. But it is medically possible for someone to spend several weeks in an induced coma and make a full recovery.
Professor Jean-Luc Truelle, the former head of the neurology department of the Foch hospital in Suresnes, told L'Equipe that a month is "the maximum period before entering into this phase" of coming out of an artificial coma.
He said the process would begin with a sedation phase, then the patient opens his eyes followed by the "re-establishment of some kind of communication, which we verify through simple commands," such as "open your eyes, shut your eyes, squeeze your hand".
"Schumacher appears to show this type of re-awakening," wrote L'Equipe. According to Prof Truelle, the two months following this phase are a period of confusion in which the patient is in a state of "lethargy" and that recovery stage can take "several years in the case of serious head trauma".
Meanwhile, Ferrari - the racing team with which Mr Schumacher had 72 of his 91 F1 wins - said in an online statement it was "waiting" for his return: "Dear Michael, having spent so many years at Ferrari, you became one of us. You thrilled us so often, bringing us great joy, but the greatest one is yet to come: namely seeing you here in Maranello again, to meet your second family, the Ferrari one."
Mr Schumacher's family have been by his bedside since the accident, and have received hundreds of letters of support and gifts from around the world.
On Tuesday, on the first day of pre-season testing in Jerez, Schumacher's friend and compatriot Sebastian Vettel revealed he is still praying for a miracle.
Mr Vettel said: "He's still in a coma and we still don't know what shape he will be in when he wakes up, which is horrible, especially for his family and close friends, not knowing what is going to happen "I'm still as shocked as everybody else, and I pray and hope the miracle will happen, he will come back and be the person he was before."
The Mercedes car being driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg this week is carrying the message "KeepFightingMichael".