The news is circulating about forty four year-old Formula One world champion, Michael Schumacher, who is in a medically induced coma following a skiing accident in the French Alps, where he suffered a serious head injury after hitting a rock on Sunday, December 29, 2013.
According to Dr. Sameer Sheth, a neurosurgeon at Columbia University Medical Center, “A medically induced coma, as well as induced hypothermia (intentional cooling of the body), are commonly used to protect the brain after head injury. These maneuvers help reduce the brain’s demand for energy, thereby helping it rest and recover. Brain swelling increases within the first few days after injury. This swelling often causes further damage beyond that already suffered at the time of impact. Induced coma and hypothermia can help mitigate this secondary injury.”
Mr. Schumacher is reportedly in critical but stable condition after undergoing two operations at a hospital in the city of Grenoble.
“The goal of acute neurosurgical intervention in the setting of head injury is usually to relieve pressure on the brain,” says Dr. Sheth. “This pressure could be due to a collection of blood or to generalized brain swelling. Early intervention usually offers the best chance of salvaging regions of the brain at risk for further damage with accumulating pressure.”
The athlete was reportedly wearing a helmet during the accident, a practice we encourage for many sports, especially those with the potential for impact such as skiing.
We wish Mr. Schumacher and his family all the best and hope for a speedy recovery!
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