Nation & World News

Michael Schumacher Showing ‘Surprising’ Improvement

By Mark Memmott on December 31st, 2013

Racing car legend Michael Schumacher is not out of danger, but is showing “surprising” improvement as doctors in France continue to treat him for the severe head injury he suffered Sunday while skiing, The Associated Press reports from Grenoble.

That improvement has allowed surgeons to operate for a second time, doctors said Tuesday.

Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, was wearing a helmet when he fell and struck a rock while skiing. But the collision caused extensive bruising throughout his brain. “There are hematomes a little bit everywhere,” Dr. Emmanuel Gay told reporters Tuesday as he described Schumacher’s condition.

Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma — designed to reduce swelling of his brain — since being admitted to the hospital on Sunday.

Despite Tuesday’s good news, doctors still cautioned that they can’t yet predict what will happen to the former Formula One champion. “We cannot tell you any more on the future,” said Gerard Saillant, a surgeon and friend of the family.

As we wrote Monday:

During Schumacher’s F1 racing career, the sport’s website says, “his sheer dominance” was beyond doubt before his first retirement in 2006: “Seven times a champion, Michael Schumacher also holds nearly every scoring record in the book by a considerable margin.”

The sport has made Schumacher a very wealthy man. “Before he retired the first time, Schumacher was earning $60 million to $80 million annually as one of the world’s highest-paid athletes,” the Los Angeles Times adds. In 2001, he topped Forbes‘ annual list of sporting superstars — with $59 million in earnings.

His return to racing did not lead to the type of success he previously enjoyed. As the Times says, “after a three-year absence, Schumacher, who won five of his titles with Ferrari in consecutive years, emerged from retirement to drive again from 2010 through 2012, this time for the Mercedes team. The comeback proved disappointing, with the German driver going winless and managing only one top-three finish.”

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