Zanardi brain injury not as severe as that of Schumacher - neurosurgeon
The surgeon who operated on Alex Zanardi has revealed his brain injury does not appear to be as severe as the one suffered by seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher.
Zanardi is currently in an induced coma at Siena's Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital following neuro and maxillofacial surgery on Friday as a result of a collision with a heavy vehicle while competing in a hand-cycling race in Italy.
It was confirmed today Zanardi will remain in the coma until next Monday at the earliest.
The relief for all family, friends and followers of the 53-year-old Italian is that axonal damage to the brain that affected Schumacher following his skiing accident in the French Alps in December 2013 "would seem to have been avoided".
That is according to Maurizio Fornari, head of the neurosurgery unit at the Humanitas Research Hospital in Rozzano.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Fornari added: "Diffuse axonal damage is very extensive damage to the entire cerebral cortex, from which one hardly returns to normal cognitive and motor functions. That Zanardi does not suffer from it, at least from what doctors can understand, for now, is good news."
As to when Zanardi can slowly be awoken from his coma, the surgeon who operated on him and director of the neurosurgical unit at Scotte Hospital, Giuseppe Oliveri said: “With injuries of this type, certainly a few days. A week, maybe two.
As to Zanardi's recovery prospects, Oliveri added: “Too early to say. For now, the fact the patient is stable is the first good news. The maximum to which we can now aspire."
After losing his legs in a CART accident at the Lausitzring in 2001, Zanardi has since forged a successful career as a para-athlete, winning four gold medals and two silvers across the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, along with numerous world titles.
Olivieri concedes Zanardi's fitness could help his cause. He said: "The fact that he is an athlete and therefore enjoys optimal general condition leads to optimism."
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