Michael Schumacher’s manager has denied reports that the Formula 1 legend is now able to walk again, two years after a skiing accident left him with a serious brain injury. German magazine Bunte claimed that the 46-year-old had taken his first steps since hitting his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps on Dec. 29, 2013.
In a story titled, “He can walk again!” the publication quotes an unnamed source as saying: “Michael is very thin. But he can once again walk a little with the help of his therapist. He manages to walk a few steps. He can even raise his arm.”
But his long-time manager Sabine Kehm quickly released a statement angrily refuting the claim.
“Unfortunately, we are forced by a recent press report to clarify that the assertion that Michael could move again is not true,” she said. “Such speculation is irresponsible, because given the seriousness of his injuries, Michael's privacy is very important for him. Unfortunately they also give false hopes to many people involved.”
Despite the comments, Bunte has insisted it is standing by its story, according to British tabloid the Daily Express.
Little has been known of Schumacher’s condition since he came out of an induced coma at a hospital in the French city of Grenoble nearly six months after his accident. After spending time in a facility in Lausanne he returned with his wife, Corinna, to his home on the shore of Lake Geneva. The last official update came in May, when Kehm stated that he was “making progress,” but urged that people “must always keep the seriousness of his injuries in mind.”
Kehm has frequently requested that the privacy of Schumacher and his family be respected. Last December she refuted a claim from former driver Philippe Streiff that Schumacher remained paralyzed and had memory and speech problems. In October Ross Brawn, who helped mastermind much of Schumacher’s Formula 1 success as technical director at Benetton and Ferrari, said he still has hope that his friend will recover.
“I do keep in touch [with Schumacher’s family], but we try and keep a balance of going to see him against calling, and not being a pain,” he revealed, reports the Daily Mirror. “I’ve been to see him a few times; Corinna, his wife, calls me occasionally and keeps me updated. We just keep praying every day that he’ll recover to a stage where…it's slow, but there's always hope.”
Schumacher won a record seven world championships during his career in Formula One career, which ended with Mercedes when he retired for a second time at the end of the 2012 season. The German, whose career began with the Jordan team in 1991, also finished with records for race wins and pole positions.
According to wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X, Schumacher is also the richest Formula 1 driver of all time, amassing a fortune of $780 million. However, in October it was reported that his medical costs since his accident had exceeded $15 million, with his holiday home in Norway and a private jet being sold off to help fund the continued expenses.