LONDON (AP) — Michael Schumacher's doctors have started trying to wake up the Formula One great from the medically induced coma he's been in since a skiing accident last month, his manager said Thursday.
The 45-year-old Schumacher suffered serious head injuries when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock in the French resort of Meribel on Dec. 29. The seven-time F1 champion has been in an induced coma in Grenoble University Hospital since then, although his condition stabilized following surgery after initially being described as critical.
"Michael's sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time," Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, said in a statement. Schumacher was being kept artificially sedated and his body temperature was lowered to between 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93.2 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit), to reduce swelling in the brain, reduce its energy consumption and allow it to rest.
Kehm said she was only providing an update now on Schumacher's condition to clarify media leaks, and that no further details would be provided. French newspaper l'Equipe first reported on Wednesday that doctors had started trying to wake up Schumacher.
Experts said it was a good sign that Schumacher's doctors were trying to bring him out of the coma and that the first 24 hours would be critical.
"It means they have probably seen the pressure in his skull reduced," said Dr. Clemens Pahl, a brain trauma expert at King's College Hospital in London.
Pahl warned that if Schumacher hasn't recovered enough to wake up on his own, doctors might need to put him back in the coma.
"It could be that swelling in his brain hasn't come to an end yet so they might need to increase the medications again," he said. Pahl said that wasn't uncommon in patients with brain injuries and that sometimes it took several attempts to bring someone out of an induced coma.