Michael Schumacher is “showing small signs of progress”, his manager said on Sunday, as the Formula One driver slowly recovers from devastating brain injuries suffered in a ski accident.
“There are short moments of consciousness and he is showing small signs of progress,” Sabine Kehm told German broadcaster ARD. “There are moments when he is awake and moments when he is conscious, which make us happy and give us great courage.
“Of course I am not a doctor, but medically, there is a distinction between being awake and being conscious, the latter meaning there is an ability to interact with his surroundings.
“I don’t want to disclose details out of respect for the family, but we have no doubt at all in the abilities of the doctors treating Michael, they are experts in their field.”
Kehm stressed that any interaction with Schumacher is “on a very limited basis” and added that “a medical prognosis is not possible” due to the nature of his brain injury.
Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma in Grenoble, France, since being badly injured in a ski accident on December 29 in the French resort of Meribel with his son and friends.
Kehm said Schumacher’s family have been touched by a deluge of tributes and support from fans of the racing driver, but constant media speculation, particularly in German newspapers, has caused the family some anguish.
“What upsets the family most is media quoting doctors who are not treating Michael and untruths are constructed from these,” said Kehm, who has been in Grenoble nearly every day since the accident.
“It has been a problem when outsiders comment and it means we have to set the record straight, even when we don’t want to.”
The 45-year-old Schumacher underwent two operations in the days after the accident to remove life-threatening blood clots before being placed into a coma. The family announced at the end of January that drugs used to keep him in his deep sleep were being reduced with a view to bringing him back to consciousness.
In February, his friend and former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was quoted as saying that Schumacher seemed to respond to him during a visit.
“He is sleeping, he looks normal and he showed a few responses with his mouth,” Massa told German tabloid Bild.
And last month, Schumacher’s family said they were confident that the racing legend who defied death more than once on the track would pull through.
Schumacher survived a motorbike accident in Spain in 2009, during which he suffered head and neck injuries but was released from hospital after just five hours.
Kehm once again asked that the privacy of Schumacher’s wife Corinna and their two children be respected, while thanking well-wishers for their support.
“Support from fans and well-wishers means very much to the Schumachers,” said Kehm. “We feel these people show genuine, affectionate interest and support.”