Alex Zanardi

Zanardi facing “very long journey” to recovery one year on from crash


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Alex Zanardi’s wife says her husband still faces a long road to recovery over a year since suffering serious head injuries in a handbike crash.

Daniela Zanardi issued an update on her husband’s condition and expressed her gratitude for the messages of support they have received since he was hospitalised in June 2020.

The two-times CART IndyCar champion lost his legs in a crash at the Lausitzring in 2001. He went on to become a multiple gold medal-winning Paralympian.

Zanardi was participating in the Obiettivo Tricolore handbike event last year when he was involved in a collision with a truck. He underwent a series of operations on what was described as a “severe head injury”, and moved to a specialist facility a month after the crash. Following a year of treatment, his wife said his condition is “essentially stable”.

“He is currently in a special clinic where he is undergoing a rehabilitation programme,” she explained. “This includes multimodal and pharmacological stimulations under the guidance of doctors, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and speech therapists to try to facilitate his recovery.

“He has undergone further neurosurgery in a ‘very complex process’ of recovery which has been characterised by a number of setbacks,” she added.

One focus of his treatment involves helping him regain his power of speech.

“Alex is in a stable condition, which means he is able to undergo training programmes for both his brain and his body,” she said. “He can communicate with us, but he is still unable to speak.

“After a long time in a coma, the vocal cords must regain their elasticity. This is only possible through practice and therapy. He still has a lot of strength in his arms and hands, and is training intensively on the equipment.”

Zanardi faces “another huge challenge” to complete his recovery and no estimate has been placed on when he will be ready to leave hospital.

“It is a very long journey and at the moment no predictions are made on when he will be able to return home. We put all our energy in Alex’s recovery.”

Since the accident, the Zanardis have received many messages of support.

“We have received so many best wishes for his recovery and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you, on behalf of Alex, for every single message.

“Following consultations with the doctors, now appears to be an appropriate time to offer this small insight into Alex’s recovery process with this interview. I would like to tell all those people who are thinking of and praying for Alex that he is fighting – as he always has done.

“The affection we have received from friends, fans, acquaintances, athletes and those involved in motorsport over the past year has been nothing short of touching and overwhelming and has been of enormous support for us in dealing with all this. However, a very special thank you goes to the medical personnel.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Zanardi facing “very long journey” to recovery one year on from crash”

  1. Keep fighting and progressing Alex. You’re awesome.

    1. someone or something
      1st July 2021, 16:32

      You’re awesome.

      That he is.

      I’m pleasantly surprised by the relative candidness of the statement. A lot of it sounds carefully optimistic, but also lets on that he’s objectively in a terrible state. With that in mind, I’m happy to hear that he’s conscious enough to communicate with his family, and that they’re trying to give him back his speech. He may not be able compete in any sports ever again, but I find it soothing that this beautiful mind of his hasn’t been lost.

  2. Mark McCubbin
    1st July 2021, 16:22

    Hero. Literally the whole world is routing for you.

    1. Chris Horton
      1st July 2021, 19:10

      Come on Alex. We’re rooting for you.


  3. How much can one guy go through? One of the few true hero’s in sport!

    Good luck Alex. Forza!

  4. You are hero, we are all praying and rooting for you!

  5. I got a feeling he is in a better state than Michael Schumacher, and communicating (probably by spelling with eyes) is a very good sign actually. Am greatful for the update.

  6. This message sounds like he’s in a tough place but it’s also given me a lot of hope that he will make a recovery. He’s just an incredible fighter – it often sounds trite to me, when people say patients are fighting (what else do you do?) but for zanardi it really feels like he does. The man is inspirational – give him the keys to the world.

  7. “He may not be able compete in any sports ever again…” I wouldn’t be so sure.

    1. Me too ! If there is anyone who could pull miracles in this world I’m sure it’s Zanardi. Keep fighting champ !

    2. someone or something
      2nd July 2021, 12:18

      I didn’t say he’s definitely never coming back in any kind of sports. But judging from the wording of that statement, it doesn’t sound very plausible. Having your body broken is a bit different from suffering brain damage and barely beginning to recover the very basics a full year after the accident.
      But that wasn’t really my point. My point was, it doesn’t matter if we’ll ever see him rolling around in public again, spreading his inimitable positivity. He’s alive and aware, and that’s all that matters to me for now.

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