Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, confirmed on Thursday that doctors at the French hospital treating the former Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes driver had begun reducing the level of sedation keeping him in the induced coma.
"Michael's sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time," Kehm said in a statement.
"The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting to respect its privacy and the medical secret, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work," she added.
"At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the worldwide
sympathy. ... For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated. Please note that no further updates will be given."
Schumacher, an avid skiier and the most successful driver in Formula One history suffered serious brain trauma after falling and hitting his head on a rock during an off-piste ski run at the French resort of Meribel on December 29. Doctors have said that without his protective skiing helmet, he might not have survived the accident.
The 45-year-old seven-time F1 drivers' champion was placed in the artificial coma after doctors at the Grenoble clinic performed emergency surgery on his brain later the same day.
pfd/kms (Reuters, AP)