Motor racing-Zanardi still unable to speak one year after accident

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(Reuters) - Italian former Formula One driver and Paralympic cycling champion Alex Zanardi still faces a long road to recovery more than a year on from a near-fatal handbike accident, his wife Daniela said on Thursday.

In an interview with BMW Motorsport (www.bmwgroup.com), she said the 54-year-old was in a stable condition but could not speak.

"He is able to undergo training programmes for both his brain and his body. He can communicate with us, but he is still unable to speak," she said.

"After a long time in a coma, the vocal cords must regain their elasticity. This is only possible through practice and therapy. He still has a lot of strength in his arms and hands, and is training intensively on the equipment.

"It is a very long journey and at the moment no predictions are made on when he will be able to return home."

Zanardi underwent multiple operations after being placed in an induced coma following the June 19, 2020, accident while taking part in a road race in Italy on a handbike.

A double Champ Car champion in the United States, the driver had to have both of his legs amputated above the knee following a horrific crash in a race in Germany in September 2001.

He recovered to return to the track in touring cars with BMW before later taking up paracycling and winning four Paralympic gold medals.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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