Monday, June 16, 2014

A very different road now.........

“Never think that success is down to your own performance alone. If you start listening only to yourself you take the first step back towards the bottom. The flowers of victory belong in many vases.”  Michael Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher, 45, has been moved from the French hospital where he has been in a coma since December 29 2013, to the Luasanne University Hospital in Switzerland today to begin rehabilitation.  He has been in a coma after he suffered a severe head injury during a skiing accident over the holidays.  It has now been reported that he has come out of the coma that was medically induced and he is now ready to begin the long road towards recovery.

Schumacher had fallen while skiing with his son and hit a rock with his head.  Doctors have stated that he would have suffered much more damage to his head if he had not been wearing a helmet.  He had also been wearing a helmet camera that was filming during the accident but no information has been released as of yet as to what the film may show of the accident.  No detailed information has been released as to what exactly his condition is today or what type of rehabilitation will be needed for the former F1 champion.  His family wishes to thank all those have helped during his hospital care, the first aid people at the accident site and all those who have sent good wishes and again have asked that this next phase of his recovery to be kept from the public eye.

The doctors in Grenoble,  France had put Schumacher into a medically induced coma to reduce the swelling in his brain as well as performing surgery to remove blood clots.  The accident that had split his helmet left some blood clots that were too deeply placed in his brain to be reached with surgery.  There has been little information about his condition since the report in April that Schumacher was showing moments of consciousness and awakening.

Dr. Tipu Aziz, professor of neurosurgery at Oxford University's John Radcliffe Hospital has weighed in with his medical opinion of Schumacher's possible  condition.  Aziz states that if Schumacher is released from the hospital, it would mean that he is able to support his own bodily functions and breathing.  He follows that by stating that the fact that Schumacher is going to rehab could mean that he has long term side effects such as problems with speech, swallowing, brain function or weakness in his limbs from the loss of brain function.  

Michael Schumacher began his racing career karting and quickly moving up the ranks of racing.  He won the German Formula 3 Championship in 1990.  The next year, he was offered his first F1 drive for the Jordan team in the Belgian Grand Prix.  He failed to finish the race after he burnt out the clutch but he did impress enough people to be given a spot driving for the Benetton Team the rest of the 1991 season.  He continued to drive for them, winning the Belgian Grand Prix in 1992 and the world F1 championship for 1994 and 1995.  Schumacher then joined the Ferrari Team in 1996 where he and some of the Benetton technical crew that followed his move, set about transforming a team that hadn't won a championship since 1979, into one of the most successful teams ever.

He won his first F1 Championship in 2000 and followed that with four more championships through 2004.  In that year, he won the first 12 races and finished the season with 13 wins, a new record for a single season.  In 2005, the rules change to require that all the teams had to race with no tire changes.  Ferrari had used Bridgestone tires for years and lost their performance edge to Michelin running teams.  Schumacher won only one race that year, while Alonso drove away with the championship.  In 2006, Schumacher finished second to Alonso for the championship and he announced his retirement from racing.  He then spent his brief retirement racing motorbikes and acting as a track side consultant for the Ferrari team.

In 2010, Michael Schumacher was back on the track racing for the F1 Mercedes team at the age of 41.  In the three years that he drove for the Mercedes team, he only managed one third place finish which made him the oldest driver to manage a podium place in the sport.  At the end of the 2012 season, he announced that he was going to retire again and Hamilton replaced him as a driver for Mercedes.  Michael finished his career with numerous records including: 7 championships, 72 wins and 181 races with Ferrari, as well as being the only motorsport athlete to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.  He won that award twice.

Michael Schumacher is not the only F1 driver to face horrific injuries and rehabilitation.  In 1976, Niki Lauda crashed his car during the German Grand Prix and was pulled from the burning wreck by four drivers and race marshall.  He suffered from broken bones, burns to his wrists and head damaged lungs from inhaling toxic fumes in the fire.  At that time, his condition was so grave that the hospital did not believe that he would survive and he was given last rites.  Lauda was back on the track six weeks later to finish fourth in the Italian Grand Prix even though he still had blood seeping from his bandages.  The doctors felt that he had recovered through his own strong will.  He walked away from racing in 1979 and started Lauda Air but in 1982, he returned to racing and continued to race through the 1985 season.  He then retired a final time.

Alex Zanardi began his racing career at age 13 in kart racing and moved up to the Italian Forumla 3 series in 1988 and then the F300 series in 1991.  It was after this season the Zanardi moved up to occasional drives in Formula 1.  1995 found Zanardi in the US and driving in the Champ Car series after he lost his driving seat in F1.  In 1998, Zanardi managed to sign another three year contract to drive in F1 after having been very popular in the Champ series but by 2001, he was back driving in the CART series.  While he was attempting to return to the track during a pitstop near the end of the race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in September of 2001, Zanardi collided with another racer and had the nose of his car and both of his legs torn off.  It was a miracle that he had even survived the trip to the hospital after the traumatic injury and the loss of almost 3/4 of his blood volume.  Zanardi went through extensive rehab and returned to racing in a specialy fitted touring car.  In 2007, Zanardi placed 4th in the handcycle division of the New York Marathon and won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics  in London.

It is great news that Michael Schumacher has finally left the hospital after his accident and with the success that other drivers have shown in overcoming the odds............ Michael may well win on this road as well.

Update Oct 5 2014:

It had been reported earlier that Michael's wife had done extensive renovations to their home on the shore of Lake Geneva.  He was transferred to their home at the beginning of September and has a specially trained medical staff caring for him.

His wife Corrina states that he is slowly recovering and has not left his side in the months following the accident.  At the time of his transfer to rehab, it was reported that he was unable to move or speak.  He was communicating with with his eyes to others though.  It had been feared that he may have remained in permanent vegetative state following the accident but that does not seem to be the case anymore.

Corrina was spotted at the World Equestrian Games that were held in France and seemed to be enjoying herself.  She had been named the Ambassador for the games the month earlier.  That would indicate that not only is he slowly recovering but that she is also comfortable with the care he is receiving at home.  The fact that he was able to be moved from rehab to homes care after less than three months would also indicate that he is continuing to improve.  

A recent report seems to contradict the earlier one about massive changes to the home to accommodate Michael in their home.  I am sure that there have been some changes there but they may not have been on a massive scale.  It will be very long road to recovery but I am sure that his fighting spirit will help him continue along that path.

Update Oct 13 2014:

Michael Schumacher's 15 year old son Mick has stated that his father is slowly waking up since he has been moved to the family home for care.  He spent six months in a medically induced coma and now that he has left a rehab hospital, he is very slowly waking which seems that he is not being pressured to improve but is being allowed to advance at whatever pace can be managed.

It has also been reported that it was not the hit on his head that caused the most damage but it was the mounting of the go pro camera that caused the severe injury.  The injury to his brain has been described as catastrophic but he is still fighting to improve.  He is being cared for by a group of 15 experts and he remains immobile and unable to speak at this time.  It has also been reported that his father Rolf will be moving into specially built quarters on the grounds of their family home.

Michael's son has been kart racing and had been racing using his mother's surname of Betsch but he has adopted Mick Jr this year while racing.  He placed second again in the German Junior Kart Championships and was runner up at the World Championship in France this year.  He stated that he is only starting his racing career and plans to continue racing

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