Former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher released from hospital and to return to his Swiss home for further rehabilitation
Michael Schumacher has finally returned to his Swiss home nine months after the freak skiing accident which nearly killed him.
Schumacher’s manager warned that there was a “long and difficult road ahead” for the seven-time champion, stressing that the move away from a rehabilitation clinic in Lausanne to his estate on the shores of Lake Geneva was not necessarily due to a dramatic change in his health.
The family of the 45-year-old has shied away from making regular statements or disclosing details of his condition ever since he was admitted following the accident while skiing with his son, Mick, in the French Alpine of resort of Meribel on December 29.
In a short statement, Schumacher’s manager since his time in Formula One, Sabine Kehm, said: “Henceforth, Michael's rehabilitation will take place at his home.
“Considering the severe injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months. There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead.
“We would like extend our gratitude to the entire team at CHUV Lausanne for their thorough and competent work.
“We ask that the privacy of Michael's family continue to be respected, and that speculations about his state of health are avoided.”
The news comes 254 days after his accident in Meribel, when Schumacher hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste. Schumacher was in intensive care in Grenoble, before he was moved to a rehabilitation unit in Lausanne in June, as his management confirmed he had been brought out of a medically-induced coma. He was in a coma for 189 days.
Speculation surrounding the German’s condition has been rife ever since, with medical professionals, as well as his former doctor in Formula One, extensively commenting on the case. Many in the paddock were particularly aghast to see Gary Hartstein, the former FIA doctor in the sport, repeatedly writing about Schumacher’s health, including on the conduct of his clinicians. Hartstein has not made any comment on his blog on the subject since June.
Officially, there has been little encouragement for Schumacher’s legions of fans from the few press statements made that he will make a full recovery. Most in Formula One wait patiently for news, greeting positive developments when they come and sending their heartfelt best wishes to the family, but the statements from the family suggest little will be seen of Schumacher for a very long time, perhaps ever again.
In yesterday’s announcement it was made clear that “it should not be assumed that massive changes in his health status were the reasons for this move”.
There has been an understandable reluctance by the Schumacher family to divulge many details in a bid to protect the privacy of his wife, Corinna, and his two children, Gina Marie, 17, and Mick, 14.
The family seemed particularly scarred by several incidents soon after Schumacher was admitted to intensive care in Grenoble. One reporter dressed as a priest to try and get into his hospital room. Last month, a man suspected of leaking a 12-page medical report on Schumacher’s case was found hanged in Zurich police cell.
Even an announcement on the naming of a corner at the Bahrain Grand Prix after the former Ferrari driver was carefully controlled, with all official information coming through Kehm and not the doctors in his case.
Jean Todt, the FIA President and team principal of Schumacher in the Ferrari years, is thought to visit his great friend twice a week, but has largely maintained a dignified silence on the issue. Mercedes, the team Schumacher drove with on his return to F1 in 2010, tweeted a picture in support yesterday with the hasthtag “#KeepFightingMichael”, which has been carried on their two cars all season.
The German Grand Prix in July at Hockenheim, a race Schumacher won on four occasions, was also a low-key occasion, marked only by a message from Corinna Schumacher in the official programme. Speaking for the first time publicly since his accident, she wrote: “We are facing a phase which will presumably take a long time. We trust that – as for so many years in F1 – time will be Michael’s ally in this fight. Until then I would like to wish you and your families all the best as well.”
The media scrutiny has not just focussed on Schumacher’s health. There have also been numerous reports that the Schumacher family have spent millions of pounds modifying his family home at Gland, just 25 miles from the hospital in Lausanne where he was being treated, in anticipation of his return. However, it is understood that these claims are wide of the mark.
Schumacher won a record seven championships and 91 races in his career from 1991 to 2006, and again from 2010 to 2012. The first two titles came with Benetton in the mid-1990s, before he utterly dominated the sport in the early 2000s, winning five straight championships with Ferrari.
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