Doctors say Bianchi should make a full recovery

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Patients with similar spinal cord damage have overcome their injuries

El doctor Joan Ferri y el accidentado, Jules Bianchi

08 de octubre de 2014 (12:00 CET)

The French racing driver Jules Bianchi (Marussia) should make a full recovery after his car hit a tractor during last weekend's Suzuka Grand Prix in Japan. The Formula 1 star remains in life-threatening condition. However, doctors are adamant that the driver can shake off his spinal chord injuries, a Spanish doctor said.

Joan Ferri is head of the Spinal Cord Ward for Hospitales Nisa. He said that the drivers' injuries are "severe", but that they can be healed with "no permanent damage" left.

The 25-year-old depends now on how severe his brain injury is. Doctors treating the young driver have said that Bianchi suffers from "diffuse axonal injury", one of the most common brain damages.

This type of devastating brain damage is relatively frequent in car racing. It affects a wide part of the brain related to data processing. Its most common cause is brain trauma, and acceleration and deceleration have a direct bearing on its severity.

Team working flat out

Dr Ferri made it clear that the first and most important priority is to save the driver's life. The French racing driver was knocked unconscious by the heavy crash. Precisely, healthcare professionals stressed that patients left three months out of conscience risk suffering permanent damage. This includes a range of effects on speech, mobility and memory.

To avoid severe physical consequences, a task force made up of speech therapists, psychologists and neurologists give the patient round-the-clock care. "Three in four patients with brain damage never regain conscience", Dr Ferri added.

Those lucky to leave their coma make a "slow, very gradual" recovery. "The longer it takes to open their eyes, the worse", the physician judged.

The Spanish doctor referrenced the case of Formula 1 ex-driver Michael Schumacher, who is recovering from severe head trauma from a ski accident occurred in 2013.

The case bears resemblance with last Sunday's racing crash. Both are top sportsmen, but their good physical state "has no effect whatsoever on their chances".

"Human brain has no muscle tissue. Their abnormal fitness plays a positive role at the beginning, but they will lose shape gradually", he said.

On the matter of a possible shorter life expectancy, the physician opined that the young driver should not necessarily die younger. "If Bianchi receives appropriate care, his life expectancy should be normal", pointed out.

That aside, a damaged human brain ages sooner than a healthy one, he concluded.

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