The 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher is still in a medically induced coma following his skiing accident over the holidays but according to Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, the German has been upgraded from ‘critical’ to ‘stable’ condition:
“Michael’s family is very happy and confident with the work of the team of doctors treating Michael, and they trust them completely. Michael’s condition is still considered as stable,”
There was an interesting quote over at the Independent from Dr. Richard Greenwood of the University College London Hospital who is a brain injury specialist:
“If Schumacher survives, he will not be Schumacher.
“He will be [Joe] Bloggs. His rehabilitation will only be effective if he comes to terms with being Bloggs.
“That is a very, very hard process to take people through. They need to come to terms with their limitations — the fact they have changed.”
I can tell you from very personal experience that this is most likely true. When my father suffered a similar situation, he did survive the aneurysm but when he came out of the coma, he was forever changed.
The immediate effect was memory loss and dementia bordering on what seemed to be hallucination. It was a shock to everyone, as you can imagine, but the brain is a incredibly complex thing and depending on the location of the injury, the impact can be different.
Dr. Greenwood’s comments are not meant to be defeatist because a person with a brain injury may never realize that they’ve changed so rehab will only be effective if they can understand that they are not the person they are now but someone else and then work toward that goal.
In my father’s case, he did have his long-term memory and knew his past so we had that base to build on. We won’t know what Schumacher’s condition is until time has equalized the situation and revealed the lasting effects.
This will most likely be a long, long rehabilitation and sometimes it can leave physical impairment as well as mental. The Schumacher we know may not be the Schumacher who awakens but miracles do happen and rehabilitation can be effective so let’s hope for the best of possible outcomes.