Helmet saves Michael Schumacher’s life as F1 star remains in critical condition
Michael Schumacher remains in a critical condition in hospital as doctors revealed he would not have survived his skiing accident had he not been wearing a helmet.
The seven-time Formula One champion is in an induced coma in intensive care at the University Hospital of Grenoble after hitting his head on a rock in a crash in the resort of Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday.
Doctors treating the 44-year-old German said at a press conference they could not speculate on his prognosis.
But they said without his helmet he would already be dead.
They said: "We believe that taking into consideration the very violent shock, his helmet did protect him to a certain extent.
"Someone who would have had this accident without a helmet, he would certainly have not got to here."
Doctors said the brain scan Schumacher underwent on his arrival at the hospital showed "a great number of lesions".
The former racing driver is receiving treatment to reduce the pressure on the brain.
Doctors said: "The brain scan showed some intracranial haematoma, but also some cerebral contusions and edema. We operated urgently to try and eliminate the haematoma. After the operation we saw that we had been able to eliminate the haematoma, but also sadly the appearance of various bilateral lesions and so therefore he was taken to intensive care to try to help him."
They added: "His condition is critical as far as cerebral care. All the recommended treatments have been introduced."
They said he had only been operated on once and a second operation was at the moment not looking necessary.
Schumacher's family - he has two children with his wife Corinna - are at his bedside.
The doctors insisted it was far too early to make predictions about Schumacher's future health.
"For the moment we are not able to express ourselves with regard to Michael Schumacher's future," they said.
The doctors, who also described Schumacher's condition as "extremely serious", added: "We are not currently able to talk about after-effects. We are talking about treatment and we are working hour by hour.
"Day and night we are at his bedside, but it is far too early to be able to say anything as far as prognosis is concerned."
Given the seriousness of his injury, despite the fact he was wearing a helmet, the doctors said the crash was likely to have taken place "at high speed".
Schumacher's body temperature is being kept at between 34 and 35 degrees. He is under general anaesthetic to reduce any external stimuli and keep oxygen getting to his brain.
Asked if his sporting background would help him to recover, the doctors said: "That's possible."
The doctors said they see similar accidents on a "regular basis every year".
"Sadly it really is something that is extremely frequent," they added.
Schumacher was with his 14-year-old son and had been skiing off piste when the accident occurred around 11am on Sunday.
A medical evacuation helicopter arrived in less than 15 minutes to take him to hospital.
The doctors said Schumacher was initially "agitated" and his neurological state then deteriorated when he arrived at hospital in Moutiers. He was then quickly airlifted to the Grenoble hospital.
They said that going to Moutiers first was not detrimental to his health.
Schumacher retired from F1 for a second time in 2012 after a three-season comeback with Mercedes.
Schumacher, who also raced for Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari, won the last of his world titles in 2004.
He won two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 before moving to Ferrari and winning five in a row from 2000. The German has 91 career wins.
His return to the sport with Mercedes after a spell in retirement was less successful. He managed just one podium finish in his three years with the team and a best end-of-season placing of eighth in 2011.
During his first period of retirement, in 2009, he was taken to hospital after a motorbike crash during testing at a circuit in Cartagena, Spain.
He did not suffer serious injuries on that occasion.
Meribel, an upmarket resort, hosted the ice hockey and women's alpine skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics