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.
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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