The condition of Cristiano da Matta

Former Toyota F1 driver Cristiano da Matta remains in a medically-induced coma in the Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, following his accident last week at Elkhart Lake when his Champ Car was in collision with a deer that had managed to get on to the circuit. Da Matta suffered serious head injuries in the accident. Medical assistance was quick to arrive and Da Matta was then extracted from the car and flown the 35 miles from Elkhart Lake to Neenah by helicopter and underwent emergency surgery for an soon after arrival. According to the latest bulletins from the hospital da Matta is making "slow but steady progress" in the intensive care unit.

The prognosis for someone who has suffered from an acute subdural hematoma (the rupture of a blood vessel between the skull and the brain which causes blood to compress brain tissue) depends on the size and severity of injury and the speed at which treatment was received. It is important in such injuries for there to be an operation to relieve pressure inside the skull within four hours but, even then, the damage depends on the extent to which the pressure reduced flow through the arteries and deprived brain cells of oxygen, causing them to be damaged or to die which causes permanent brain damage.

There are a number of tests which can be used when someone is in a coma to see if they react to stimuli and one must assume that the remarks of the doctors refer to progress in this respect. The doctors at Theda Clark have now started to reduce the drugs that have been used to keep Da Matta under sedation and they will be in a better position to assess the damage once he is no longer sedated.

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