What we know about Michael Schumacher’s health four years after ski accident

Formula 1 legend driver Michael Schumacher suffered life-threatening injuries following a ski accident in the French Alps over four years ago.

The motor sport icon was left in a coma after sustaining a severe head injury in the incident four years ago on December 29, 2013.

Official updates from Schumacher’s family have been incredibly scarce in the months and years following the incident. Ahead of the 2018 F1 season, his manager Sabine Kehm passed on the family’s thanks for fans’ support.

There have been suggestions could be taken to the US for specialist treatment near the Texas ranch he owns.

And exactly four years on from his crash, reported healthcare figures suggested his home care bills have now passed £20m.

In 2017, a Hamburg court ruled German outlet Bunte must pay Schumacher €50,000 for false claims that he could ‘walk again’ two years after the accident.

Here is what we know so far…

What happened?

Schumacher was holidaying with friends and family in the French Alps when he suffered a ‘severe head injury’ while skiing on 29 December 2013.

He was airlifted to Grenoble Hospital requiring ‘immediate neurosurgical intervention’ and underwent two life-saving operations.

Schumacher remained in a coma, with doctors describing his condition as ‘extremely serious’ the day after his admission. It is thought he would have died if he had not been wearing a ski helmet.

What did we learn afterwards?

News became scarce after the immediate aftermath of the accident, with the Schumacher family’s next statement coming in April 2014.

They said the former F1 champ had shown ‘moments of consciousness and awakening’.

Three months followed before it was released that Schumacher was no longer in a coma and had left Grenoble Hospital.

It was confirmed three months after that that Schumacher had been transferred from Lausanne Hospital to the family home on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The statement read: "Henceforth, Michael’s rehabilitation will take place at his home. Considering the severe head injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months.

"There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead."

In 2015, Schumacher’s manager said his condition was improving "considering the severeness of the injury he had."

A year later, the German’s lawyer told a court that his client "cannot walk".

What’s the latest and where is Michael Schumacher now?

On the eve of the 2018 F1 season, with the seven-time champion very much in people’s minds once again, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm shared a small insight into the family’s feelings .

“What can be said is that the family really appreciates the empathy of the fans,” she said.

“The people really do see and understand (his health situation) is not to be shared in the public eye.”

After first being treated at Grenoble Hospital, then having rehabilitation at Lausanne’s University Hospital, Schumacher has been at his home in Geneva, where a special medical facility has been built for his rehabilitation and treatment. It is reported he is looked after by a 15-strong medical team, with his care costing £115,000 per week.

What do we know about Michael Schumacher’s condition since the accident?

The first pictures of Schumacher since the accident were touted around European media outlets for £1million in December 2016, with police launching an investigation in to how the photographs were taken from the German’s home in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s manager, said there were no plans to release a statement with an update on the 47-year-old’s current plight.

"Michael’s health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard," Kehm said.

"We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere."

Friends’ hopes

Speaking in November 2016, Ross Brawn revealed that family and friends of Schumacher are still holding out hope they will see the F1 legend ‘as we knew him’.

“We go see him and hope and pray that one day he will make a recovery. I was quoted as saying he’s improving and it was not what I really meant," Brawn told the Guardian.

"The family are conducting his convalescence in private and I need to respect that.

"So I don’t want to comment on his condition beyond saying we’re extremely hopeful we’ll see Michael as we knew him at some point in the future.”

In November 2017, it was reported the former Ferrari great’s loved ones are holding out hope Schumacher is "sending signals from his distant world," according to German magazine Bunte.

He cannot walk

In 2017, Schumacher’s lawyer outlined his client’s injuries in court after an article in German magazine Bunte claimed the 47-year-old could walk again.

A Hamburg court later ruled Bunte must pay Schumacher €50,000 for the false claims.

Felix Damm said simply: "He cannot walk," adding Schumacher is unable to stand even with the assistance of therapists.

Bunte’s report featured a comment from an unnamed friend of Schumacher’s, who said: "Michael is very thin. But he can once again walk a little with the help of his therapists.

"He manages to make a couple of steps. And he can also raise an arm."

Kehm also rejected the claims of the magazine, saying: "Unfortunately, we are forced by a recent press report to clarify that the assertion that Michael could move again is not true," Kehm said.

"Such speculation is irresponsible, because given the seriousness of his injuries, his privacy is very important for Michael.

"Unfortunately they also give false hopes to many involved people."

US treatment?

In reports on September 20, it was claimed Schumacher could be moved to the US for specialist treatment.

German magazine Bravo claimed relatives were considering a move to the States, where Schumacher owns a cattle ranch in Dallas, Texas.

It is hoped a nearby brain specialist, Dr Mark Meeks, could offer a breakthrough.

Dr Meeks said: "We have extensive experience with trauma patients.

"There is probably no clinic in Europe that handles as many cases as we do."

Michael Schumacher museum goes ahead

There is also a plan for a Michael Schumacher Museum, which is expected to open in Cologne in April 2018. Discussing plans for the Museum, his agent Kehm said: "During all his active years Michael kept most of his cars and many overalls and helmets.

"At the back of our minds we had always planned to make them available to the public."

Fighting fit?

A family friend has revealed how his toned physique may be aiding him and that he is doing "well in the circumstances."

The source added that "Corinna and the children hope to this day that a medical miracle happens."

The cost of care

On the fourth anniversary of the crash, it was reported his home care bills had passed £20m.

But Professor Mark Oberman from the Centre for Neurology of the Asklepios Clinic gave the German and his family hope.

"According to a Swedish study, between 30 and 40 percent of patients have regained consciousness within four years," he said.

"Many can come back to life and see how their children and grandchildren grow up, what plans they have or what else happens in the family or circle of friends."

What have his family said?

Mick Schumacher has also gone into motor racing, and is progressing through the Formulas.

In April 2017 he revealed his dad is his inspiration. He said: "My role model is my dad. Simply because he is the best – my idol."

In August 2017 he marked the 25th anniversary of his father’s first F1 win by driving the Benetton car Schumi drove to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1992.

Mick’s sister Gina-Maria paid tribute to their parents as she collected an award for her western riding achievements at the Audi Generation Awards in December 2017.

The two-time world champion and European champion puts her success down to the support of her parents.

"I would like to thank the jury, but especially my parents for the love they give me every day,” she said, after revealing she used to go karting with her legendary father but chose a different career path because “horses are better”. The family own ranches in Texas and Switzerland, and Corinna was a European champion in Western riding too.

His manager Sabine Kehm recently passed on a message on behalf of the family , saying: “What can be said is that the family really appreciates the empathy of the fans.

“The people really do see and understand (his health situation) is not to be shared in the public eye.”

F1 fans are also still keeping Schumacher close in their thoughts – with the official Ferrari supporters club unfurling a massive 30-metre long banner at pre-season testing in Spain ahead of the 2018 season.

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