It’s been more than six years since Michael Schumacher’s devastating skiing accident in the French alps.
The fall on December 29, 2013, left the seven-time F1 world champion with a traumatic brain injury, and he’s not been seen in public since.
Schumacher’s health status is largely unknown with few updates in the years since his accident, as his family looks to maintain his privacy.
His wife, Cornnia, provided a rare statement on the eve of his 50th birthday in January 2019, saying the family were doing "everything humanly possible" to help the F1 legend.
It’s been suggested that his personal health care bills have topped £20million, due to being looked after at home rather than in hospital.
Here’s what we know about what happened to Michael Schumacher and his condition up to now.
What happened to Michael Schumacher
Schumacher was holidaying with friends and family in the French Alps in December 2013.
On December 29 he was skiing with his son, Mick, when he fell while crossing an unsecured off-piste area, hitting his head on a rock.
His life was saved by his ski helmet, but he still suffered a ‘severe head injury’.
Schumacher was airlifted to Grenoble Hospital, undergoing two life-saving operations and requiring ‘immediate neurosurgical intervention’.
The Ferrari icon remained in a coma after the operation.
What happened afterwards?
It wasn’t until April 2014 that the family released their next statement, in which they said Schumacher had shown ‘moments of consciousness and awakening’.
Another three months passed before it was confirmed that he was no longer in a coma and had left Grenoble Hospital.
Three more months followed until it was released that the 91-time Grand Prix winner had been transferred from Lausanne Hospital to the family home on the shores of Lake Geneva.
A statement said: "Henceforth, Michael's rehabilitation will take place at his home.
"Considering the severe head injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months.
"There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead."
The following year Schumacher’s manager said his condition was improving "considering the severeness of the injury he had”, while in 2016, the German's lawyer told a court that his client "cannot walk".
That statement came as he outlined the former racer’s injuries after an article in German magazine Bunte claimed he could walk again, something later proved to be untrue.
The magazine was ordered to pay the family €50,000 for the false claims, but in court it was revealed that he couldn’t stand without the assistance of therapists.
His manager, Sabine Kehm, added: "Unfortunately, we are forced by a recent press report to clarify that the assertion that Michael could move again is not true.
"Unfortunately they also give false hopes to many involved people."
Stem cell treatment
Reports in early 2019 suggested the former Ferrari ace had spent that winter at a luxury home in Mallorca once owned by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Neighbours claimed they saw the F1 champion at the villa, arriving by helicopter, however the family denied suggestions they were going to the Spanish island.
In September 2019 Schumacher was secretly admitted to the Pompidou hospital in southwest Paris for treatment with a pioneering surgeon.
It was claimed he was set to undergo treatment based on stem-cell transfusion by Philippe Menasche.
Le Parisien reported he was admitted for transfusions of inflammation-reducing stem cells, and also quoted an unnamed nurse who claimed Schumacher had shown signs of recovery.
"Yes he is in my service," the nurse revealed. "And I can assure you that he is conscious."
Dr Menasche also hit out at suggestions he was carrying out experiments on the German racer.
"I do not perform miracles," he said. "My team and I are not doing an experiment, an abominable term that is not in line with a serious medical view."
It’s believed the motorsport legend is suffering from osteoporosis, which weakens bones, and muscle atrophy, which causes muscles to waste away, due to him being unable to move since the tragic accident.
The doctor has previously managed to graft healthy stems cells onto the heart by replacing damaged ones with a healthy replacement. While the surgery is deemed to be safe there is currently no evidence as to what impact it would have on the brain.
Reports that Schumacher was set to undergo a second operation at the hands of Dr Menasche in June 2020 were widely believed to be inaccurate.
Michael Schumacher now
After stints at Grenoble Hospital and Lausanne’s University Hospital, Schumacher has spent most of his time at his home near Lake Geneva, where a special medical facility has been built for his rehabilitation and treatment.
It’s been reported he is being looked after by a medical team of 15, with his care costing £115,000 per week. On the fourth anniversary of the accident, it was reported his home care bills had passed £20m.
‘Close relatives’ reportedly spoke with the French magazine 'Paris Match' ahead of his 50th birthday in January 2019. The magazine quoted one as saying: "When you put him in his wheelchair facing the beautiful panorama of the mountains overlooking the lake, Michael sometimes cries."
In November 2019, his wife Corinna said to She’s Mercedes magazine: "You can be sure that he is in the very best of hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him.”
A month later she reportedly told fans : “Big things start with small steps. Many small particles can form a huge mosaic.”
Conflicting assessments of the F1 great’s condition came out in 2020.
In January a neurosurgeon claimed Schumacher's condition has "deteriorated" since the accident.
Nicola Acciari said: "We must imagine a person very different from the one we remember on the track, with a very altered and deteriorated organic, muscular and skeletal structure, "All as a result of the brain trauma he suffered."
Eight months later, Erich Riederer, a renowned surgeon based in Zurich, gave a bleak outlook in a documentary on French TV channel TMC.
"I think he's in a vegetative state, which means he's awake but not responding," he said. "He is breathing, his heart is beating, he can probably sit up and take baby steps with help, but no more.
"I think that's the maximum for him. Is there any chance of seeing him like he was before his accident? I really don't think so."
However, former Ferrari boss and current FIA President, Jean Todt, said on the eve of the Tuscan Grand Prix in September 2020: "I saw Michael last week. He is fighting.
"My God, we know he had a terrible and unfortunate skiing accident which has caused him a lot of problems. But he has an amazing wife next to him, he has his kids, his nurses, and we can only wish him the best and to wish the family the best, too.
"All I can do is to be close to them until I am able to do something, and then I will do it."
Who has seen Michael Schumacher?
Michael Schumacher ’s condition has been kept a closely guarded secret over the past six years, with only friends and family seeing him.
His family and management have released few statements over the years.
Some have criticised this policy, notably Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber, who in November 2019 said Corinna was hiding the ‘truth’ and fans should be kept better informed.
"I know that Michael has been hit hard, but unfortunately I do not know what progress he makes,” Weber said in a documentary. "I’d like to know how he’s doing and shake hands or stroke his face.
"But unfortunately, this is rejected by Corinna. She’s probably afraid that I’ll see right away what’s going on and make the truth public.”
Afterwards Corinna responded : “Please understand if we are following Michael's wishes and keeping such a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy."
His current manager, Sabine Kehm, explained in 2016 why little has been said officially about Schumacher since his accident.
She said: "In general the media have never reported on Michael and Corinna's private life. When he was in Switzerland, for example, it was clear he was a private individual.
"Once in a long discussion Michael said to me 'you don't need to call me for the next year, I'm disappearing.'
"I think it was his secret dream to be able to do that some day. That's why now I still want to protect his wishes in that I don't let anything get out."
And while son Mick has made his way up to the motor racing ladder, leading the Formula 2 championship in 2020 and doing demonstration runs in his dad’s championship-winning F1 cars, questions about Michael’s health are strictly off limits.
Family friends have reported in the past how his toned physique could be helping him and he’s doing "well in the circumstances”. Meanwhile ghoulish photos have been allegedly smuggled out – both from Grenoble Hospital in 2014 and more recently from the family home – and touted for up to £1million.
Jean Todt, is a regular at Schumacher’s Swiss home, and confirmed the pair watched the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix together.
"I'm always careful with such statements, but it is true. I watched the race together with Michael Schumacher in his house in Switzerland,” he said in December 2018.
In July 2019 he said: "His family is fighting just as much and of course our friendship can not be the same as it once was.
“Just because there's no longer the same communication as before. He continues to fight. And his family is fighting the same way."
Former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, has also kept up-to-date with Schumacher’s recovery.
"I know how he is, I have information,” he said in May 2020. The main thing about all this is that we know his situation is not easy. He is in a difficult phase but we need to respect him and the family."
The 11-time Grand Prix winner added it was his dream to see his former teammate at the race track, watching his son compete.
“I dream and pray every day that he gets better and that he can appear at a circuit again, especially now that his son is racing. So I pray that it may happen one day.”
Former Ferrari chief Ross Brawn, who helped mastermind Schumacher to all seven of his world championships – two at Benetton and five with Ferrari – has also kept in touch with the family.
In January 2019 he said the family “never relented with their support for Michael and their belief there will be solutions ahead,” adding: "We're all optimistic about finding solutions in the future and there will be a time when things move forward for Michael."
He also supports the family’s decision to keep his Schumacher’s private.
"I am constantly in touch with Corinna, and I totally agree with their decision.
"Michael has always been a very private person and that's been a guiding principle in his career, his life and his family always agreed with that choice.
"It's completely understandable that Corinna has wanted to maintain the same approach, even after the tragic event, and it's a decision we must all respect. I'm sure the millions of people who are still Michael fans will understand it, too."
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