Michael Schumacher 'paralysed and in a wheelchair'

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Formula One driver Michael Schumacher is paralysed and in a wheelchair, according to close friend and former racing driver Philippe Streiff.

Speaking on French radio, Streiff, who himself was left wheelchair-bound after a crash in 1989, said: "He is getting better but everything is relative. It's very difficult. He can't speak. Like me, he is in a wheelchair paralysed. He has memory problems and speech problems," the Telegraph reported.

Schumacher is reportedly unable to speak at all, and while he is recovering slowly, a long-term prognosis is difficult to predict.

The seven-time world champion is currently being cared for by a private medical team at his home on the shores of Lake Geneva. He was initially treated at an intensive care unit in Grenoble, before being moved to Lausanne hospital in Switzerland.

It is nearly a year since he suffered a severe head injury while skiing in the French Alps last December, while on holiday with his family.

An advanced skier, Schumacher had left an intermediate 'red' run to ski off-piste when he struck a rock, which sent him careering head-first into another.

The force of the impact was enough to shatter his helmet, though a video camera attached to it survived the impact and its footage has been examined by police investigating the incident.

Schumacher has been showing slow signs of improvement since last December. In April, his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm stated that he was showing "moments of consciousness and awakening".

She refused to comment on Streiff's revelations, saying simply "he did not have contact with us".

Michael Schumacher continues to receive round-the-clock care as he fights to return to health. His recovery is expected to take some years.