A year on from the skiing accident that would change his life forever, race car driver Michael Schumacher has started to recognise the voices of those closest to him.
The seven-time Formula One world champion, who is wheelchair-bound and yet to regain the ability to speak, is “alive and understands,” according to reports.
An Italian newspaper reports that Michael is reacting to the voices of his wife Corinna and their two children, Gina Maria, 17, and Mick, 15, with tears. The article also states:
“Schumi cries. And sometimes mysteriously. He cries when he hears his children, his wife’s voice, his dogs. In the silence of that room, a tear runs down his thin face at a known sound.”
“Inside this we can find… There is life, enclosed in a drop; there is the strength of a man who is moved and that moves each of us. We have his tears, his senses exposed.”
Reports say that, despite all the progress, Michael is still largely unable to communicate with his family and often spends hours looking “into the void”.
The news comes one year on from his accident in the French Alps, just in time for his 46th birthday which was to be celebrated in their family home in Switzerland, yesterday. Michael has been recovering at home since June, after his accident on December 29, 2013, left him in a coma for six months.
Autosprint’s editor-in-chief Alberto Sabbatini said in an editorial piece that his would be a “very slow recovery”.
“In recent times, he has been able to recognise the familiar faces of his family, but he cannot communicate with them,” he said.
“It is the only way his strong character is able to externally convey an emotion. It is a sign that he is alive and understands, even if for now he is the prisoner of an immobile body.”
The 46-year-old, known as a very competent skiier, was skiing with son Mick on a slope between an intermediate and a beginner-level run when he hit a partially covered rock. Although he had not been skiing very fast at the time, Michael lost control and was thrown over 10 metres onto another rock where he hit his head.
In October, a French doctor who has been treating Michael since his accident said that he was making progress, but that he would need years to fully recover.