Former Formula 1 driver and two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi has reportedly regained his sight and hearing, months after he was involved in an accident during a handbike race.
Zanardi, a multiple Paralympic gold medalist, who lost his legs in a motorsport crash in 2001, was competing in the Obiettivo Tricolore handbike race on June 19 when he veered into oncoming traffic. Witnesses at the scene said his bike overturned and was hit by a truck.
He has since undergone extensive surgeries to rebuild his face and skull and was placed into a medically-induced coma. A month later his sedation was reduced and he was brought out of the coma.
His condition initially deteriorated, forcing doctors to move him to the San Raffaele Hospital – the third different hospital to treat him – where they completed further surgery as a result of “late complications due to the primal head injury.”
The Italian is currently undergoing neurological rehabilitation at the Padua University Hospital where his condition has improved significantly according to a report in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Doctors confirmed to the paper that Zanardi was able to shake hands on demand and raise his thumb in response to questions. He is also able to recognise his wife Daniela, who makes daily visits.
He has recovered his sight and hearing, although remains unable to talk due to a hole in his trachea, which doctors are keeping open as a precaution.
Doctors are reported to be confident that Zanardi will recover the majority of his brain functions with further rehabilitation.