Michael Schumacher 'out of intensive care'
Michael Schumacher has reportedly been transferred to a rehab unit at Grenoble University Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment for injuries sustained in a skiing accident at the end of last year.
German magazine Bunte reported that the 45-year-old is being moved to a different part of the hospital - but rather than being a positive step, it is being interpreted as a major blow to his long term prognosis, with the magazine clamiing that "the chances of full recovery have dropped".
No other reports have so far corroborated the story, and Schumacher's agent Sabine Kehm has yet to comment on the update.
For the past few months the media have respected the Schumacher's family wishes not to report from the hospital where he is being treated. The last confirmation on his whereabouts was in April, when Schumacher's wife Corinna denied reports that she was to move her husband to a specially-built facility within the family home on Lake Geneva.
Around the same time, Kehm confirmed that Schumacher had shown "moments of consciousness" that sparked hopes of recovery, but as time moves on those hopes are growing fainter.
"As time goes on it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent," wrote F1's former chief doctor Gary Hartstein in his blog two months ago.
"I think that serious lapses in judgement were evident during Michael’s initial management (I have this from usually impeccable sources who have access to this information)," he wrote.
"Because these lapses could (and almost certainly did) worsen the outcome in Michael’s case, it is possible that the staff at Grenoble feel duty-bound to NOT place any pressure on the family to transfer out (out the hospital), despite the terribly dismal prognosis... because of the clear (but unquantifiable) contribution of medical misjudgement to that prognosis."
Schumacher has been in intensive care in Grenoble University Hospital since his December 29 accident, in which the blow to his head was strong enough to crack his helmet.
After surgery to reduce bleeding and bruising he was placed in an induced coma and his body temperature was lowered to reduce the risk of further damage. The 'waking-up' process began at the end of January.
Since then updates have been sparing and Harstein said that he thought the lack of information coming out from Schumacher's family might actually help fans cope with any terrible news that may come.
"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," he added.
"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.
"And I think this is probably one of the unexpected 'benefits' to the media strategy chosen by Michael’s family. Somehow, I get the feeling that people are going to be ok, no matter what happens, because they’ve now had the time to process this all. I just regret that to get here, you’ve all had to work through feeling abandoned. That will go away too. I hope."