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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Schumacher 'blinks eyes' and gives responses in brain tests

Alexandra Williams

Published 31/01/2014 | 02:30

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Michael Schumacher. Getty Images

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is "responding to instructions" as medics gradually bring him out of his coma, according to reports.

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It has also been claimed that the seven-time world champion has blinked during brain tests.

Citing "very reliable sources", 'L'Equipe newspaper' said Schumacher has undergone a number of neurological tests since Monday and he has responded "positively".

Schumacher (45) was placed into an artificial coma after suffering traumatic brain injury in his near-fatal skiing accident on December 29 in the French resort of Meribel. Shutting down function can give the brain time to heal.

Medics have now started the process to end his coma by gradually reducing the dosage of powerful anaesthetic drugs.

And yesterday the newspaper revealed Schumacher had blinked during the "first stage" of brain tests.

Sky News quoted sources saying Schumacher (pictured) was "responding to instructions".

It is not known if the information from the two separate reports is linked and therefore whether Schumacher blinked on command.

But Professor Jean-Luc Truelle, the former head of the neurology department of the Foch hospital in Suresnes, told 'L'Equipe' that once the patient opens their eyes there would be a "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 reawakening," wrote L'Equipe.

The newspaper said it was "undoubtedly the best news" since his accident.

Earlier in the day, following media interest worldwide, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm was forced to confirm that Schumacher was being brought round from his coma. She had initially responded to the reports by telling fans to treat all unofficial statements as speculation.

She said: "Michael's sedation has recently been reduced to initiate a process of awakening which may take a long time.

"To protect the family, initially it was clearly agreed between all parties only to disclose this medical information once this process was consolidated. The family wishes to express appreciation for the sympathy they have received from around the world."

It is possible for someone to spend several weeks in an induced coma and make a full recovery. But Professor Gary Hartstein, Formula One's chief medic until 2012, said: "It is extremely unlikely, and I'd honestly say virtually impossible, that the Michael we knew prior to this fall will ever be back."

Wife Corinna (44) and children Gina Marie (16) and Mick (14) have remained at his bedside. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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