Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, who has been in a medically-induced coma following a skiing accident in late December, may reportedly never regain consciousness, according to reports.
The seven-time German champion has been unconsciousness for 18 days since smashing his head on a rock while skiing off-piste in the French Alps, although theoretically, the coma means that oxygen to his brain is reduced, allowing him to make a speedier recovery.
The fears for his future are being fueled by German publications like Bild newspaper and Focus magazine that have interviewed brain injury experts whose forecasts are dire.
According to the experts, a patient who is put in an artificial coma, which helps the brain recover more quickly, is usually brought out of it after one to two weeks.
The report in UK's Daily Mail said that Schumacher, who also had surgery on his skull to relieve cranial pressure caused by brain swelling, reportedly has not recovered enough to make doctors plan to wake him. The longer a coma lasts, the greater the damage it indicates, and it is possible that Schumacher could remain in that state for the rest of his life.
He is also at risk for a number of complications including cerebral hemorrhage, increasing cranial pressure, loss of muscle, and stress on his liver caused by the continual anesthesia.
The lack of updates or progress reports from his medical team and management has added to the alarm.
Schumacher remains in critical condition at a hospital in Grenoble, France, where his wife and two children are holding a constant vigil.
Scientists on Wednesday said that people with severe head injuries like the one that left Michael Schumacher in critical condition have permanently altered brains that make the victims more likely to become mentally ill and die prematurely.