Michael Schumacher: Doctor Says Formula 1 Must Get Prepared For the Worst

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By Dhrubajyoti Biswas | March 26, 2014 4:49 PM EST

After the horrific ski accident that left legendary Michael Schumacher in coma, Dr. Gary Hartstein, former Formula 1 chief doctor, has warned to prepare "for the worst" in an attempt to awaken Schumacher lingers on.

Reuters
Michael Schumacher suffered head injuries after crashing into a rock while skiing.

During the fatal accident in December 2013, Schumacher was medically induced to coma for 8 weeks. Schumacher's manager confirmed 13 days back attempts to awaken the champion continuw and will keep on "as long as it takes."

But Dr. Harstein admitted the longer it takes him to awaken, the chances go dimmer.

"As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent," Dr. Harstein said in his personal blog.

"I always knew Michael was adored..."

"I spent years at circuits drenched in red by the Ferrari caps, flags, and shirts, and all of that for Michael. I'm still staggered by the depth and persistence of his fans' love for him...."

"And whereas I worried more than a bit about what was going to happen when and if really bad news got announced, I've realised that perhaps the lack of status updates has given us all a chance to move on a bit, to process what's happening, and to start to... detach."

Schumacher had already lost around 25 percent of his body weight because of muscle atrophy. This condition is common when a patient goes in deep coma and muscles are left unused.

Dr. Hartstein noted this condition is "entirely possible and, in fact, probable."

"Happily, the consequences are not particularly dramatic, at least immediately..." he said.

"To be blunt, a patient in coma doesn't really NEED his or her muscles . . . with the exception of the diaphragm. The diaphragm, which like the heart is pretty much always active, resists atrophy rather better than other muscles, but it does atrophy."

"And having a machine doing the breathing for you is one of the best ways to see how disuse atrophy affects the diaphragm too. Unfortunately, and assuming (as I have until now) that Michael is being ventilated by a respirator, there is probably some degree of diaphragmatic atrophy at this point."

Dr. Hartstein cited the current state of Schumacher as "persistent coma."

"As mentioned previously, the longer one remains in a vegetative state, the less the likelihood of emerging, and the higher the chances of severe ramifications if the patient does in fact emerge....", the doctor said.

"Most definitions consider the vegetative state to be permanent one year after the injury."

"Patients who are in a persistent/permanent vegetative state have lifespans that are measured in months to a few years. This depends on baseline function (extraordinary in the case of Michael, of course), the quality of nursing care, and other imponderables. They usually die of respiratory or urinary infections. Longer survivals have been described, but are exceptional." 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Michael Schumacher suffered head injuries after crashing into a rock while skiing.
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