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Former Formula 1 world champion Schumacher 'improves slightly' following skiing accident in Meribel in the French Alps
michael schumacher
Seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher was said to be 'slightly improved' on New Year's Eve, but still fighting for his life following a skiing accident in Meribel, two days earlier.

The 44-year-old German, who reportedly hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste with his teenage son in the French resort, remains in a critical condition following surgery at the University Hospital in Grenoble.

Schumacher, who is known to be a keen, accomplished skier, was wearing a ski helmet at the time and his anaesthetist, Professor Jean-Francois Payan told reporters that if he had not been wearing a helmet 'he wouldn't be here now'.

He said the medical team were working 'hour by hour' and could not give a prognosis. 'He is in a critical state in terms of cerebal resuscitation. His state is still sensitive and anything can happen.'

Following the accident, which happened on the slopes below the Dent de Burgins peak on Sunday morning, 29 December, Schumacher was spotted by ski patrollers who called in a helicopter which whisked him to the nearest hospital in Moutiers. He was then taken to Grenoble where he was placed in an induced coma to stablise the pressure on his brain and prevent secondary brain damage.

A second operation was carried out on Monday evening after which a subsquent scan showed a 'slight improvement'.

He could remain in this coma for up to several weeks, however, and, if he survives, months of therapy could follow. Doctors have lowered Schumacher's body temperature to 34-35C as part of the coma, slowing his metabolism to help reduce inflammation. His family - wife Corinna, daughter Gina Maria and son Mick - are at his bedside.