In December 2013 Michael Schumacher hit a rock while skiing in the French Alps, which left him in a coma. He was treated in Grenoble Hospital, but in September 2014 was moved to a specially built rehabilitation room in his home in Switzerland.
In his career as a Formula One racer Schumacher won 91 races and is regarded as one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.
Unable to speak or move
In the meantime it has become clear that the old Schumi might never return, as according to doctors there has been little change in his condition and he is still unable to speak or move, despite being out of the medically-induced coma.
His manager, Sabine Kehm claimed earlier this year that his health is improving and he is “making progress” despite his severe condition.
This might, however, just be window dressing and not everyone agrees with this statement. A while ago, former racing driver and friend of Schumacher Philippe Streiff claimed on French radio that Schumi is paralysed and in a wheelchair, and that he cannot speak and has problems with his memory, although Schumacher's spokesperson rubbished it.
On 10 July 2010 the British Telegraph reported that Michael's wife, Corinna Schumacher had taken legal action against gossip publications Bunte, Freizeit Revue and Freizeit Spaß over reports that he had begun to speak and was undergoing specially-designed therapy.
A regional court in Munich in Germany has now banned the reports, saying it, as Süddeutsche Zeitung reported “removed his privacy and was the subject of speculative hope and voyeuristic observation".
It’s now been approximately a year since Schumacher came out of his coma, but his privacy is jealously guarded by close friends and family and very little is known about his progress.
The unanimous thinking among health professionals is that nobody knows if he'll ever recover and, if he does, how long it will take.
Schumi is worth close to a billion US dollars
Schumacher is a very wealthy man and his assets are estimated to be close to a billion US dollars (more than R10 billion). The care he is receiving in his home – involving doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists, neurological experts, medical equipment rental and nurses – is however not cheap.
Reports say it is costing the German driver’s family around £100,000 (close to R2 million) a week to look after him. Now, media are reporting that his wife Corinna has been selling assets to "pay for the medical costs", although this may be pure speculation.
Corinna has been running Schumacher’s finances since his accident and earlier this year reportedly sold his private jet for close to R500 million.
According to the German magazine Bunte she also sold the family’s holiday house in Norway, and might also sell their chalet in Meribel, France. According to Bunte, Corinna realises that her husband will never fly in his jet again, nor will he ever visit his holiday homes again.
Image: Schumacher's former 645-square-metre lodge in Trysil, north of Oslo in Norway, that was reportedly sold for R38.6 million rand. Photo from the sale documents. Photo: Screen grab from Finn.no
It is unlikely, though, that the Schumachers will run out of money because the Schumacher “empire” continues to generate a fortune, even with Michael out of action. According to Mail Online, in 2010, three years before his accident, Schumi admitted to making a will disposing of his £750m fortune. He divided his cash, cars and property among his wife and two children.
What head trauma entails
Head injury or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden physical assault on the head causes damage to the brain. The severity of a head injury can range from a mild concussion to the extremes of coma or even death.
Read: Traumatic brain Injury
The outcome of TBI depends on the cause of the injury and on the location, severity, and extent of neurological damage: outcomes range from good recovery to death. Doctors often use the Glasgow Coma Scale to rate the extent of injury and chances of recovery.
The scale (3-15) involves testing for three patient responses: eye opening, best verbal response, and best motor response. A high score indicates a good prognosis and a low score indicates a poor prognosis.
The future for Schumi
Severe head injuries like in Schumacher’s case can permanently alter a victim’s brain, increasing their likelihood of mental illness and premature death. People with traumatic brain injury (TBI) may suffer long-term mental consequences like behavioural problems and depression.
A study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that survivors of TBIs are three times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, often from suicide or fatal accidents.
Schumacher may well have a changed brain and will have to make major readjustments to cope.