Alex Zanardi has regained his sight and hearing and is able to give non-verbal responses to questions as he continues his recovery from injuries and subsequent surgeries following a handcycle crash in June.
According to Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the 54-year-old is able to respond to questions with gestures, shake hands and recognizes his wife Daniela. He remains unable to speak due to a hole in his trachea that is being kept open as a precaution, however Corriere reports that Zanardi’s medical team view these latest signs of progress as encouraging for his prospects of regaining the majority of his brain function.
Zanardi suffered extensive head and facial injuries in the accident, which occurred when he lost control during a stage of the Obiettivo Tricolore in Siena, Italy, crossed into the oncoming lane and slammed into a truck. After being placed into a medically-induced coma and undergoing a series of reconstructive surgeries, he was moved from Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital to a rehabilitation facility near Milan and gradually brought out of his coma.
Shortly after being transferred though, his condition deteriorated again, and he was moved into the intensive care unit of the nearby San Raffaele hospital, where he has since undergone additional surgery.
Zanardi took up handcycling in the years after losing his legs in a CART accident at the Lausitzring in 2001, and rose to the top of the sport in tandem with a return to motor racing. His handcycle success led to his being selected to the Italian Paralympic team to compete at the 2012 and 2016 games, where he won a total of four gold medals.