Schumacher doctors upbeat as F1 legend comes out of coma
Hopes that Michael Schumacher may recover from his skiing accident rose dramatically yesterday after it emerged that he was "no longer in a coma" and had been transferred to a hospital in Lausanne near his family home.
The positive development sparked a ripple of optimism throughout the global sporting community, including in Brazil where the German 45-year-old's national football team triumphed in their first World Cup group match.
'Bild' newspaper reported that Schumacher was now able to breathe without assistance and that his waking periods had become progressively longer over the past few weeks. However, the paper cited doctors as saying that his rehabilitation "could take months if not years".
Despite reports that he can now hear voices, respond to touches and "communicate with his environment", some medical experts remained sceptical about the seven-times world motor racing champion making a full recovery.
Confirmation of his movement to a rehabilitation facility came 24 weeks after he hit his head a rock while skiing off-piste in the French Alpine resort of Meribel. The violence of the collision split his ski helmet in two, leading doctors to place him in an induced coma at a hospital in Grenoble. After months of sparse updates on his condition, his entourage finally announced yesterday that he was no longer in a coma and had moved to the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV), in western Switzerland.
"Michael has left the CHU Grenoble to continue his long phase of rehabilitation. He is not in a coma anymore," Sabine Kehm, his manager, said.
The Lausanne hospital is 20 miles from Schumacher's family home at Gland on the shore of Lake Geneva. Darcy Christen, a hospital spokesman, confirmed that he had arrived at the hospital yesterday morning.
He said: "The family are in a separate part of the hospital where their privacy can be best protected and where Michael Schumacher can obtain the highest level of care."
One of five university hospitals in Switzerland, CHUV has a department of clinical neurology – considered to be a global leader in brain research. Schumacher is likely staying in its neurorehabilitation unit, which includes nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and neuropsychologists.
With Schumacher now near his Swiss home, Kehm said: "His family would like to explicitly thank all his treating doctors, nurses and therapists in Grenoble as well as the first aiders at the place of the accident, who did an excellent job in those first months." Fresh goodwill continued to pour in yesterday, including from his last team in Formula One, Mercedes, which wrote: "Encouraging news on Michael's condition this morning. We couldn't ask for a better start to the week."
Lewis Hamilton said: "It's amazing news. Everywhere I go people ask about him, whether it's the States or Canada. I always keep him in my thoughts and prayers. It's a real positive to hear that there's some progress."
Fernando Alonso tweeted: "Good start of the week with the news of Michael! So happy this is going in the good direction!" Many commentators noted the poignancy of the football-mad Schumacher waking up just in time for Germany's Group G opener against Portugal.
Germany and Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski, said: "What a great news!!! Get well soon Schumi!!! I'm so glad and happy when I just heard it!!"