Doctors pleased by Albrecht's progress

Updated: February 13, 2009, 10:19 AM ET
Associated Press

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Swiss skier Daniel Albrecht will suffer no permanent damage to his health from brain and lung injuries following his downhill training crash last month, doctors said Friday.

Albrecht woke up from an induced coma Thursday, three weeks after badly crashing on the final jump of the Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

"We are very pleased about his condition," Innsbruck University hospital neurologist Bettina Pfausler said.

Albrecht had full movement in his limbs and no memory loss, and was already able to sit upright and answer "yes" and "no" to simple questions, Pfausler said.

Complications affecting Albrecht's lungs after a severe infection of the organ were the doctors' main concern, though a full recovery was expected, senior physician Stefan Schmid said.

"This is a great, joyful day," said Urs Lehmann, president of the Swiss ski federation.

A date for Albrecht's return to Switzerland was not yet set, Swiss team medical director Hans Spring said at the world championships in Val d'Isere, France.

"We are not in a hurry. There must be no risk with the transport back," Spring said, adding that the timing will be decided by the doctors at the hospital.

Daniel's father, Martin Albrecht, told Swiss television that "his biggest hope is to take Daniel home. ... The best moment for me was when Daniel reached to take my hand. He does not talk yet but he offered me his hand. The stone fell from my heart at that moment."

Spring refused to speculate about Albrecht being able to return to top-level skiing.

"Skiers are not marathon runners and perhaps it is going to be all right," Spring said, referring to Albrecht's lungs being affected while he was comatose. "He can speak but he has a problem with his voice because the tubes were in for two weeks and there is swelling. He gets sleepy all the time but he can react normally and communicate."

Albrecht had not been watching Friday's giant slalom race at the world championship on television.

"No. To see Swiss skiers coming down is not a good thing for him to relax," Spring said with a smile.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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