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Doctors: Schumacher in critical state

Ap
Wednesday, January 01, 2014

GRENOBLE, France - Doctors offered a grim assessment of Michael Schumacher's head injuries Monday, providing no prognosis for the Formula One driving great after his skiing accident in the French Alps.

Schumacher has been placed in a medically induced coma to relieve pressure on his brain, which suffered bruising and bleeding when the retired seven-time world champion fell and struck a rock on Sunday while skiing during a family vacation.

"We cannot predict the future for Michael Schumacher," Jean-Francois Payen, the doctor in charge of Grenoble University Hospital's intensive care unit, said at a news conference.

"He is in a critical state in terms of cerebral resuscitation," said Payen, the chief anesthesiologist treating the 44-year-old German driver.

"We are working hour by hour."

Schumacher's wife, Corinna, daughter Gina Maria and son Mick were at his bedside.

Schumacher earned universal admiration for his uncommon driving talent, which led to a record 91 race wins. His single-minded dedication to victory sometimes meant he was denied the same affection during his career that he received Monday.

Schumacher and his 14-year-old son were skiing Sunday morning in the French Alpine resort of Meribel, where the family has a chalet. He fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock.

By wearing a helmet, Schumacher had given himself a chance of survival, Payen said, though the protection was not enough to prevent serious injury.

Gerard Saillant, a trauma surgeon who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg in a 1999 race crash, was at the hospital as a visitor.

He told reporters that Schumacher's age and fitness should work in his favour.

Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, retired from the track for the second time only last year, after a three-season comeback.

Still, the hospital's neurology team, which is recognised as among the best in France, was cautious about Schumacher's prospects.

Doctors lowered his body temperature to between 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93.2 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) as part of the coma, which essentially rests the brain, slowing its metabolism to help reduce inflammation after an injury.

The hospital, in a city that is the gateway to the French Alps, sees a large number of skiing accidents every year.

Schumacher has been seriously hurt before. In addition to the broken leg in a crash at the 1999 British Grand Prix, he also suffered neck and spine injuries after a motorcycle accident in 2009 in Spain.