Former Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, 45, has awoken from the medically induced coma he was placed in following a horrific skiing accident that left him with severe head injuries while on vacation with his family at the French resort of Meribel last December. His son was with him when Schumacher fell and hit his head on some rocks, hard enough to split his helmet. Although conscious after the accident, doctors at the Grenoble University Hospital Center in France felt it was necessary to place him in the coma following emergency surgery involving drilling into his skull to relieve pressure and remove blood clots, in order to “let his brain heal.” Although it is too soon to tell just how bad his condition remains, and what sort of rehabilitation will be needed over the long-term.
Unlike natural comas, medically induced ones are induced by doctors using barbiturates such as pentobarbital or thiopental to lower the metabolic rate of brain tissue to alleviate pressure inside the cranium, and reduce the flow of blood in the brain.
Few details have been released about his present condition, although the fact that he has been released from the hospital is an indication that he is now able to breathe on his own. There have also been unconfirmed reports that he had been responding to voices around him since April, as doctors worked to bring him out of the coma during the past four months. It is still too early to know exactly what any lasting impairments may be. In the meantime, Schumacher will continue his rehabilitation out of the public eye at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudoisa Swiss hospital nearer to where he and his family live.
Schumacher, who retired from racing in 2012 is considered to be one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time, having won the Championship a record 7 times. He also continues to hold many of the sport’s records including most overall victories, as well as the most victories achieved in a single season, fastest laps, and the most pole positions won. He was also awarded the honor of being named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year two times.