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Alex Zanardi leaves hospital 18 months after accident

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Credit: DTM

Eighteen months after being involved in a freak handcycle accident, Alex Zanardi has departed the hospital and returned home to continue his recovery. His wife Daniela confirmed the news on Monday.

“The recovery continues to be a long process,” said Daniela. “The rehabilitation programme 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 was a two-time CART champion who later became a Paralympic handcyclist after losing his legs in a wreck during the CART race at Lausitzring in 2001. Despite his injuries, he continued auto racing in touring cars like DTM and sports cars such as IMSA.

He was to take part in the Italian GT Championship in November 2020 when he was hit by a truck while competing in the Obiettivo Tricolore handbike race on 19 June. The accident occurred when Zanardi lots control of his bike on a downhill slope, causing him to enter the opposite lane and resulting in serious head injuries. Zanardi was placed in a coma for intensive treatment, with multiple facial surgeries taking place.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, family visits to the hospital were limited.

We are with Alex all day, he is in his familiar environment and thus could return a little bit to normality,” said Daniela. “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.”

As part of his recuperation at home, Zanardi continues certain hospital routines such as “physical, neurological and logopedical exercises” with a therapist. He has also regained strength in his arms and is able to move around in his wheelchair.

“You still can’t predict how his recovery will further develop,” continued Daniela. “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.

“[…] 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.”

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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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