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Doctors urge caution after Schumi 'good news'

2014-06-17 10:11

ROAD TO RECOVERY: Michael Schumacher will have a lengthy period of recovery ahead as he 'wakes' from his near six-month coma. Image: AFP

PARIS, France - Doctors have urged caution following official news that Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma.

Lewis Hamilton summed up the mood when he hailed the statement issued by Schumacher's management as "amazing news".

Hamilton said: "I've been trying to keep an ear out for what's going on but not really hearing much improvement. To hear this is really encouraging."


As well as saying the Schumacher’s near six-month coma was over, an official statement said he left the hospital in Grenoble for a "long phase of rehabilitation".

It said little else but warned of legal consequences should the media report further, including the location of Schumacher's next destination.

Publications promptly claimed Schumacher (45), was moved to Lausanne university hospital, a 30 minute drive from his home in Switzerland. The hospital confirmed the news.

The media also began to quote the opinions of medical experts, like Oxford university neurosurgery professor Dr Tipu Aziz, who told AP news agency it is clear the former Ferrari driver will suffer "long-term side effects".

Aziz said: "With rehabilitation, they will try to train him to cope with the disabilities that he's got to achieve as much life function as possible.

"If he's had a brain injury, he may have weakness in his limbs secondary to loss of brain function. He may have problems with speech and swallowing."

Bild newspaper, claiming that Schumacher cannot speak yet, also reported that the rehabilitation "could take months, if not years".

The Telegraph reports British rehabilitation consultant, Dr Ganesh Bavikatte, said: "There are hopeful signs. He is physically fit, he is relatively young and I assume he did not have many pre-existing medical conditions."

Others are less optimistic.


German neurosurgeon Dr Andreas Pingel told the Focus publication that "only 10 - 30%" of patients in Schumacher's situation have "disabilities which are tolerable".

Germany's society for neurology president, Dr Andreas Ferbert, warned that Schumacher could now be in a "waking coma", resulting in a "permanent vegetative state".

Bild claimed Schumacher was communicating with his family.

Finnish neurosurgeon Dr Mika Niemela told the MTV3 broadcaster: "We do not know exactly what 'communication' means. 'Eyes open' does not necessarily mean communication.

"I do not want to be a pessimist and I hope he does improve, but if the information that has been given is correct, then yes, the chance of recovery is fairly poor. If he has been five and a half months in ICU, the trauma was significant. Yes, he will probably be in constant need of assistance."


Medical consultant for French television BFMTV, Alain Ducardonnet, said Monday's(June 16 2014) news was a "real step", because earlier updates indicated Schumacher remained at least partially in coma.

Ducardonnet said: "Now it is possible to do a complete neurological evaluation and know exactly what has happened. Based on this information, an appropriate rehabilitation will start."

Another expert, chief of neurology at Tampere University, Dr Heikki Numminen, said that Monday's news makes the "forecast of recovery slightly better" than before.

Numminen added: "I am unable to comment on what his ability to function in the future will be."

Professor Heinzpeter Moecke of Hamburg hospital, agrees that it is not publicly known what level of consciousness Schumacher is currently achieving.

At any rate, Moecke said the F1 legend will "probably have to re-learn everything: swallowing, movement, walking, talking. It is a very long and tedious process with many small steps."

Asked if Schumacher can recover, he answered: "No one can say at this time. In principle, nothing is impossible.  But that he will go back to before is at least unlikely."

Former F1 driver Olivier Panis told RTL television that his friend "will not be paralysed, that's for sure. He will not be disabled in a wheelchair.

Panis said: “As for the brain, we do not know.  We have to be patient."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

Read more on:    michael schumacher  |  switzerland  |  f1  |  news  |  motorsport

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