The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

December 31, 2013

Small improvement for Schumacher after 2nd surgery

— GRENOBLE, France (AP) — Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery after a brain scan showed small, "surprising" signs of improvement, but grim doctors said Tuesday they could offer no insight into the prognosis for the Formula 1 champion.

Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, suffered critical head injuries when he fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing on a family vacation in the French Alps. His manager confirmed that the accident cracked his helmet, which doctors credited for giving him a chance at survival.

Schumacher's condition stabilized somewhat after the second surgery, but he remains in a medically induced coma — and doctors gave no prediction on how long that would last.

"We cannot tell you any more about the future," said Gerard Saillant, a surgeon and friend of the family who is in Grenoble. Saillant said it would be "stupid" to make any predictions about Schumacher's recovery.

Schumacher and his 14-year-old son were skiing in the French Alpine resort of Meribel, where the family has a chalet, when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock. He was taken first to a local hospital, then to Grenoble University Hospital, which is recognized as having one of France's best neurology teams.

Dr. Emmanuel Gay, the hospital's chief neurosurgeon, said a brain scan performed late Monday showed bruising "a little bit everywhere" in Schumacher's brain — but also an unexpected easing of pressure.

"The brain scan was, I must say, surprising," he said.

But he and other doctors cautioned that Schumacher's condition was still grave after the successful two-hour surgery to eliminate the largest and most accessible bruise, on the left side of his brain.

"We cannot say he is out of danger," said Dr. Jean-Francois Payen, head of the hospital's intensive care unit. Payen said any neurological evaluation was "out of the question" for now.

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