Alex Zanardi has been transferred to a specialist rehabilitation centre a month after suffering a serious head injury during a crash in a handbike race in Italy. The former F1 driver and multiple-time Paralympic medallist had been treated at Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital in Siena following the accident on June 19.
Zanardi underwent three separate operations and was placed in an induced coma as doctors monitored his condition day and night.
The 53-year-old has now been deemed to have made sufficient progress to be brought out of the coma and be transferred to a specialist rehabilitation centre.
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A statement released by the hospital on Tuesday read: “The health management of the Siena University Hospital announces the end of the sedative-analgesic program to which athlete Alex Zanardi was subjected, admitted to the UOC Anesthesia and Resuscitation DEA and Transplants department since last June 19.
“After the suspension of sedation, the normality of the cardio-respiratory and metabolic parameters, the stability of the general clinical conditions and the neurological scenario allowed the transfer of Zanardi to a recovery and functional rehabilitation centre. The athlete was therefore transferred today to another facility.”
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The hospital’s general manager Valtere Giovannini said: “Our professionals remain at the disposal of this extraordinary person and his family for the further stages of clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic development, as always happens in these cases.
“I sincerely thank the multidisciplinary team that took care of Zanardi for their great professionalism, recognised nationally and beyond. The athlete spent over a month in our hospital: he underwent three delicate surgeries and showed a path of stability of his clinical conditions and vital parameters that allowed the reduction and suspension of sedation, and the consequent transfer to a facility for the necessary neuro-rehabilitation.
“I conclude by sending a big hug to Alex’s family, who has shown extraordinary strength: a precious gift that will be a fundamental travel companion of the new path that begins today.”
Zanardi is now fighting the second major health battle of his life having had both of his legs amputated following a CART racing crash in 2001.
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After going through rehabilitation and designing his own prosthetic limbs to enable him to go racing again, Zanardi returned to the track in a round of the 2003 European Touring Car Championship.
The Italian has since forged a stunning second career as a handcyclist and won four gold medals and two silvers across the London and Rio Paralympics in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
Zanardi was competing in the Obiettivo Tricolore road race last month when he crashed into an oncoming truck during a downhill section.
He was airlifted to Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital before his transfer to the rehabilitation centre this week.
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