Formula One ace in wheelchair, paralysed, unable to speak

THE 45-year-old is a�?getting bettera�? but still has speech and memory problems, according to former F1 racer and pal Philippe Streiff.

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is paralysed and in a wheelchair, according to former racing driver Philippe Streiff.

The seven-time champion is said to be unable to speak and has memory problems.

Streiff, who is himself wheelchair-bound since a crash in Brazil during pre-season tests in 1989 left him a quadriplegic, was speaking on French radio.

The Frenchman, who is a good friend of Schumachera��s, said: a�?He is getting better but everything is relative.

a�?Ita��s very difficult.

a�?He cana��t speak.

a�?Like me, he is in a wheelchair, paralysed.

a�?He has memory problems and speech problems.a�?

Streiff, 59, was seen visiting Schumacher when the German was in intensive care in Grenoble Hospital, France.

Schumacher, 45, was transferred to Lausanne Hospital, Switzerland, in June and he is now being cared for at his home on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Official news on Schumachera��s health has been scant.

It was December 29 when he suffered a freak ski accident in the French Alps which left him brain damaged and fighting for his life.

Schumacher, a very competent skier, was holidaying with family and friends in Meribel, where he owns a chalet.

He was skiing with his 14-year-old son on a red piste, which is classed for intermediate skiers.

But shortly after 11am he left the piste and skied on to an off-piste area located in between the red run and a blue run, for beginners to intermediates.

It was here that he struck a partially-covered rock.

He was not skiing fast but he lost control and catapulted 34 feet on to another rock.

He smashed his head on the boulder.

The force of the collision shattered his helmet.

The footage recorded on a camera attached to his helmet was undamaged.

The film, which included audio, captured the crash in full horror and was analysed by police who investigated the accident.

Two months later, on February 17, the head of the inquiry Prosecutor Patrick Quincy closed the case.

He announced that any criminal wrongdoing had been ruled out.

He cleared the ski resort, stating that the piste had been marked correctly and that Schumacher a�?deliberatelya�? left the ski run.

Schumacher was airlifted from the slopes minutes after the accident to Moutiers Hospital and was then transferred 80 miles west to CHU Grenoble, a larger hospital that specialises in head injuries.

He arrived at 12.40pm and had been placed in an artificial coma.

He was immediately operated on to relieve pressure on his brain.

At the end of January it was announced that doctors had begun the process of gradually awakening him from his coma.

And then on April 4, his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm revealed that he was showing a�?moments of consciousness and awakeninga�?.

He had opened his eyes and had interaction, albeit minimal, with his environment.

It was the first piece of positive news for months.

Ms Kehm has said it was a�?very harda�? for his loved ones to comprehend how the racing car driver could have been so catastrophically injured in such a a�?banal situationa�?.

His wife Corinna has been a constant presence at his bedside.

She and Schumacher met in 1991 on the F1 circuit after she was previously married to racing driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

She once said: a�?Michaela��s passion for racing is just huge, it would have been impossible without this deep passion; this passion has made him who he is.

a�?I got to know him as a racer, and I had previously always had fullest confidence in him.a�?

He has referred to his marriage as a�?total harmonya�?, saying: a�?We have the same vision of how we want to spend our lives.

a�?My wife Corinna and our harmonious family a�� that is my main force always at play in the background.a�?

With an accumulated wealth estimated to be well over half-a-billion pounds, Schumachera��s family is well placed to provide the limitless care that will be needed in the coming years.

This will include physiotherapists, to massage his atrophying joints, doctors, nutritionists, nurses and neurological experts.

Ms Kehm today said Streiffa��s comments were a�?his opinionsa�? and she therefore did not want to comment.

She added: a�?He did not have contact with us.a�? a�� Daily Mail