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Winter Sports & Brain Injury: Michael Schumacher in Skiing Accident

Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One race champion, has been in a medically induced coma since December 29, 2013. On December 29, Schumacher was skiing the French Alps at Meribel when he lost his balance, crashed, and hit his head on a rock.

Schumacher, a skilled skier, was wearing a helmet equipped with a camera that videotaped the crash. The impact of his head hitting the rock split his helmet in half. The Formula One driver was rushed to a hospital in Grenoble in critical condition, where he has remained in a medically induced coma since December 29.

Schumacher suffered a traumatic brain injury, and it is unknown if he will recover from this incident. According to Jean-Marc Orgogozo, Professor of Neurology at the University of Bordeaux, “Every day, every week in a coma the chances decline that the situation is improving.” Neurosurgeon Colin Shieff explained that those in persistent vegetative states like Schumacher “have not died” but “have fairly basic responses.”

Thus far, doctors at the hospital have operated on Schumacher and conducted a series of tests. He recently had an operation to remove a piece of skull in order to relieve brain pressure.

Appallic Syndrome Following Brain Injury
Doctors are predicting that Schumacher is in grave danger of Apallic Syndrome, which is medical terminology for persistent vegetative state. Generally, after four weeks of being in a medically induced coma, patients are classified as being in a persistent vegetative state. Schumacher is currently at the four-week mark. While over half of individuals in persistent vegetative states emerge from their comas within the first year, 28% of those in persistent vegetative states die. While recovery of consciousness may occur, there is a possibility that functional recovery never occurs. In addition, while rehabilitation helps those that recover consciousness, many who do recover consciousness suffer from lifetime disabilities.

Investigators looked into the crash and investigated the ski course, the ski bindings, and the speed at which Schumacher was skiing. Investigators have determined using the video camera on Schumacher’s helmet that Schumacher was skiing on a well-groomed course and decided of his own volition to veer off course, shortly after which he crashed. The course has since reopened, and skiers have begun skiing the slopes again. Per investigators, the slopes contained adequate signage for the edges of the ski runs. Investigators then believed that the ski bindings malfunctioned. In the event of a crash, ski bindings are supposed to release the boots from the skis to prevent the skis from tangling. However, investigators later determined that the ski bindings functioned properly. Finally, investigators looked at the speed at which Schumacher had been skiing. Witness reported that he was going at a normal speed with a group of others and was not skiing fast or dangerously.

Investigators will continue to investigate the exact cause of Schumacher’s traumatic brain injury. Meanwhile, doctors fight to improve Schumacher’s situation, and his loved ones thank fans for their support and pray for the best.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury during an accident and believe that this accident was caused by the negligence of another, please contact Levin & Perconti.

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