Schumacher unlikely to regain all faculties

Last updated 13:22 23/01/2014
Michael Schumacher
CRASH REPORT: Formula One legend Michael Schumacher was skiing off-trail when he crashed in the French Alps, putting him in an induced coma.

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There are fears Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher may never wake up from his coma.

The 45-year-old has been in intensive care since receiving head injuries in a skiing accident in the French Alps on December 29.

He was placed into an artificially induced coma shortly after the crash to help his brain heal.

With no indication of how much longer Schumacher could remain in the coma, European media has been questioning whether the father-of-two could have apallic syndrome, a potentially permanent vegetative state.

Former F1 doctor Dr Gary Hartstein, saying he wanted to help clarify some of those reports, said it was virtually impossible "the Michael we knew prior to this fall will ever be back".

"I think that it will have to be considered to be a triumph of human physical resiliency, and of modern neurointensive care, if Michael is able to walk, feed himself, dress himself, and if he retains significant elements of his previous personality," Hartstein said.

"If recovery proceeds to this point (which is totally possible, if perhaps rather improbable), it is an open question as to how well the 'higher functions' (memory, concentration, reading, planning, etc) will recover."

But it was entirely possible, based on what was known about the primary injuries to Schumacher's brain, that he could continue to be in a coma.

Jean-Marc Orgogozo, professor of neurology at the University of Bordeaux, has been quoted saying: "Every day, every week in a coma the chances decline that the situation is improving.”

In the Mirror, London-based consultant neurosurgeon Colin Shieff  said it was too early to diagnose Schumacher as being in a permanent vegetative state, but it was right for doctors to warn his family of potential apallic syndrome.

A diagnosis of apallic syndrome could not be verified until many months after the initial trauma. People with the syndrome had fairly basic responses, and did not need help with breathing or blood circulation.

"They do not respond to things going on outside them but there are events that indicate that there is ‘a person still present’," Shieff said.

"People with apallic syndrome do show responses equivalent to waking up, showing anger, hunger or pleasure but not with the consistency that you and I would show."

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Schumacher's family has recently posted a message on his website saying: "he is a fighter and will not give up".

The family said they were deeply touched by all the get well messages that were still being sent. "That gives us strength".

- Fairfax Media

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