Michael Schumacher is gradually being woken from his coma and is responding 'positively' to the treatment, according to a French newspaper.
L'Equipe said according to its sources, medics treating the German Formula One champion, who has been in an artificial coma since his skiing accident on December 29, started the phase of gradual awakening this week.
The news comes as Schumacher enters his fifth week of a medically induced coma, and there are fears he may remain in a 'persistent vegetative state' for the rest of his life even if the awakening treatment is successful.
The national newspaper, devoted to sport, wrote: 'After four consecutive weeks in a coma, Michael Schumacher has been placed, according to our information, in a phase of gradual awakening. It is a slow and uncertain process of return... Michael Schumacher is responding positively to the process, started this week.'
In the case of traumatic brain injury, such as that sustained by Schumacher, doctors sometimes induce a coma. Shutting down function can give the brain time to heal.
To end the coma the dosage of powerful aneasthetic drugs being administered is gradually reduced.
Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm reiterated that speculation about his condition should be ignored.
In a statement she said: 'I insist again on the fact that any statement on the health of Michael Schumacher that does not come from the medical team in charge or his management is just speculation.'
Seven-time world champion Schumacher, 45, has been receiving round-the-clock care in Grenoble Hospital since December 29 when he hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste in Meribel, in the French Alps.
His wife Corinna, 44, with whom the champion has two children Gina Marie, 16, and Mick, 14, has remained at his bedside.
The family has received more than 1000 letters of support.
- Daily Mail