Michael Schumacher turned 49 today but the Formula 1 legend is still recovering from the tragic skiing accident which almost cost him his life four years ago.
The true extent of the injuries Schumacher sustained on that fateful day in December 2013 remain sketchy.
However, what we know for sure is that he suffered substantial brain damage, underwent two life-saving operations and spent around six months in a coma after hitting his head on a rock while on holiday with friends and family in the French Alps.
"Michael's health is not a public issue,” Schumacher’s agent Sabine Kehm was quoted as saying by the Telegraph last year, “and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard.
"We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere."
F1 fans, though, can be forgiven for wanting to find out more information about one of the greatest drivers - if not *the* greatest driver - in the sport’s history.
It was reported a few months ago that Schumacher was “weak” and that his wife had decided to take him to America to “try new care”.
The hope was that a specialist brain doctor nearby a rant that Schumacher owns in Dallas, Texas, would be abed to help improve his condition.
Doctor's words will encourage F1 fans
While it remains unclear whether that happened - again, because of his family’s understandable desire for his recovery to remain private rather than public - F1 fans will be encouraged by what a top doctor has said about the icon’s hopes of his condition improving.
Professor Mark Obermann, Director of the Centre for Neurology at the Asklepios clinic in Seesen, has told Schumacher’s supporters that “they shouldn’t [give up hope].”
“According to a Swedish study, between 30 and 40 percent of patients have regained consciousness within four years,” he revealed, via the Express.
“Many can come back to life and see how their children and grandchildren grow up, what plans they have or what else happens in the family or in the circle of friends.”
Obermann also claims that communication from loved ones will play a part in the recovery process.
He added: “It is assumed that the patients are aware of more than we previously thought was possible.”
Schumacher is cared for by a large team at his home
Schumacher is currently receiving around-the-clock care at his home in Switzerland by a team of 15 doctors and nurses, according to The Sun, who understand that the cost of such treatment is an estimated £115k-a-week.
Let’s all hope for positive news about Schumacher’s condition at some point in 2018.
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