Auto racing and Paralympics star Alex Zanardi released from hospital 18 months after crash

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  • Alex Zanardi
    Italian racecar driver and handcyclist

Nearly a year and a half after suffering a traumatic brain injury following a paracycling accident, auto racing champion and Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has been moved from a specialized rehabilitation facility to continue the process from home in his native Italy.

“The recovery continues to be a long process,” Zanardi’s wife Daniella said in a communication distributed by BMW. “The rehabilitation program led by doctors, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and speech therapists has enabled steady progress. Of course, setbacks are there and can still occur. Sometimes you also have to make two steps back in order to make one step forward. But Alex proves again and again that he is a real fighter.

“An important step was that Alex was able to leave hospital a few weeks ago and is back at home with us now. We had to wait very long for this and are very happy that it was possible now, even if there are still temporary stays in special clinics planned for the future to carry out special rehabilitation measures on site.”

Zanardi said her husband’s settling in process upon his return home has gone well.

Alex Zanardi, shown Jan. 8, 2019.
Alex Zanardi, shown Jan. 8, 2019.

“After the long time in hospital it is important for him to be back with his family and in his familiar environment,” she said. “You also have to consider that, due to the Coronavirus situation, Alex had only people with face masks and in protective equipment around him for one and a half years. In addition, due to the comprehensive and important protective measures in the clinic, the visiting possibilities are, of course, very restricted.

“Alex hasn’t met friends and part of the family for one and a half years. Only me, our son and Alex’s mother could visit him, but always only one person per day and this only for one and a half hours. All this did not help to make the situation easier for Alex. Therefore it helps that he is now at home with us, even if also at home he currently can only be with the closest family as Corona numbers are increasing again. But we are with Alex all day, he is in his familiar environment and thus could return a little bit to normality. This gives him additional power.

“We are very grateful to the medical staff in the clinics he has been treated in. The doctors, care personnel, therapists and everybody being involved have done so much for Alex and continue to accompany us in his recovery process. In the clinics, Alex is in very good hands, but his own home still is his own home.”

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The move home has not come with a reduction in Zanardi’s rehabilitation schedule.

“Different programs Alex did in hospital are continued at home now,” she said. “During the week, a therapist works with him and they do physical, neurological and logopedic exercises. In regards of his physical condition, there is a lot of progress. Alex has more and more strength in the arms, that has increased a lot. And, other than in (the) hospital where he was in bed a lot, Alex now spends most of the day in the wheelchair with us. He just rests a bit in the afternoon after lunch.”

Despite the positive news, Zanardi’s ability to make a full recovery is not yet known.

“You still can’t predict how his recovery will further develop,” she said. “It is still a long and challenging way that Alex tackles with a lot of fighting spirit. It is a big help for him and us that we receive so much support on this way, not only from the doctors and therapists that intensively work with him. Our friends are always there for us. This includes the BMW Group family, which we can always count on and that is firmly at our side also in this difficult time.

“We are very grateful to everyone for that and for so much more because these strong ties give us additional energy. This also goes for the continued sympathy we receive from racing drivers, fans and acquaintances from all over the world. We would like to express a big ‘grazie’ to all who send their good thoughts and power to Alex. We wish everybody a merry Christmas and all the best for the new year.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Alex Zanardi released from Italian hospital 18 months after crash