Paris/Lausanne: Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has left hospital in Grenoble and is no longer in a coma, his family said on Monday.
The 45-year-old has been transferred to Lausanne university hospital in Switzerland, officials at the hospital said.
Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma after suffering a severe head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps on 29 December.
His family thanked people who had sent messages of support, saying: “We are sure it helped him.” They also praised the “excellent job” of medical staff at the hospital in Grenoble, in south-east France.
Doctors had kept the seven-time champion in a coma to help reduce swelling in his brain.
Schumacher was being treated at Grenoble’s University Hospital Centre in the French Alps. “Michael has left the CHU Grenoble to continue his long phase of rehabilitation. He is not in a coma anymore,” Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, said in a statement on behalf of his family on Monday.
“For the future, we ask for understanding that his further rehabilitation will take place away from the public eye,” she said, without giving further details.
Relatives have previously warned that “it was clear from the start that this will be a long and hard fight for Michael”.
According to the BBC, the university hospital in Lausanne is one of Switzerland’s most renowned hospitals, with all the expertise a patient would need.
But it is not clear what Schumacher’s condition is and his process of recovery is still expected to be a long one.
Monday’s statement was the first substantial update since early April when Kehm said the German racing driver was showing “moments of consciousness and awakening.”Medically induced coma is brought about by powerful anaesthetics and is broadly similar to the sedation and artificial ventilation used during surgery. It is used to shut down many brain functions, lowering blood flow and pressure on the brain. Taking a patient out of an induced coma is a delicate process, especially after a prolonged period of sedation.
Neurosurgeon Tony Belli had told the BBC that rehabilitation from this sort of injury could take months or years. “We know that some people can spend three, four years in rehabilitation,” he said. “It depends very much on the severity of the injury, how young and fit they are.”
Meanwhile, the German football team sent their wishes to the F1 legend from the World Cup in Brazil at the weekend.
Lukas Podolski, the Arsenal striker, told a news conference: “I’d like to greet a good friend, who unfortunately is unable to be here. He is Michael Schumacher.
“He is just as crazy about football as all of us. We wish his family a lot of strength. If we win the title, that would be something that would make him happy.”
The reaction from the F1 world has been enormously positive on one level, but the lack of specific details about his condition has left a question mark for many people.
The Mercedes team posted on Twitter: “Encouraging news on Michael’s condition this morning. We couldn’t ask for a better start to the week.”
Ferrari’s Renato Bisignani said: “My reaction is one of overwhelming joy. There is not one day when we haven’t thought of Michael, followed his progress and remembered him.”
Investigators probing last December’s accident said Schumacher had been going at the speed of “a very good skier” at the time of his crash in the resort of Meribel.
The schumi saga
Formula One legend Michael Schumacher regained consciousness, on Monday, after nearly six months. Following is a timeline of the developments from the day of the accident:
December 29, 2013: Schumacher put in medically induced coma in Grenoble, France, after getting injured in a skiing accident, in Meribel. The 45-year-old struck his head on a rock while skiing off-piste.
vv January 31, 2014: His manager, Sabine Kehm, says in a statement that the 45-year-old is being slowly woken from his induced coma and was responding to simple instructions.
February 22: Felipe Massa visits Schumacher and says he saw his mouth move as he spoke to him in the hospital.
April 4: Schumacher shows moments of awakening. The first good news to come from the hospital.
April 13: Kehm confirms that he has shown small signs of progress.
April 18: Doctors deny his treatment was ‘delayed’.
June 3: Fans warned not to expect any good news.
June 13: Schumacher is moved to rehab ward, in Grenoble.
June 16: Official announcement comes from Schumacher’s family that he is out of coma and has left the hospital in Grenoble. He has been shifted to a hospital in Lausanne.