Jules Bianchi crash details: what is diffuse axonal injury?

Marussia driver's injuries explained as damage to the 'cabling' in his brain, as experts fly to Japan

Jules Bianchi
(Image credit: Tom Gandolfini/AFP/Getty)

As Jules Bianchi continues to fight for his life, the family of the Formula 1 racing driver have revealed the extent of the injuries he sustained in the horrendous crash that ended Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old Frenchman is suffering from a "diffuse axonal injury" (DAI), in which nerve fibres in the brain are torn as the organ moves back and forth in the skull because of sudden acceleration or deceleration.

The Marussia driver remains in the intensive care unit of the Mie General Hospital in Yokkaichi three days after he ploughed into a recovery vehicle that was removing Adrian Sutil's car from the Suzuka circuit. In a statement released on Formula One's official Facebook page, the Bianchi family said: "He has suffered a diffuse axonal injury and is in a critical but stable condition. The medical professionals at the hospital are providing the very best treatment and care and we are grateful for everything they have done for Jules since his accident."

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Bianchi, who made his F1 debut with Marussia in 2013, is in the best possible hands following the arrival on Tuesday of Professor Alessandro Frati, a neurosurgeon from the University of Rome La Sapienza. He travelled to Japan at the request of the Ferrari team. Professor Gerard Saillant, president of the FIA medical commission, is also present. The family said they were at Bianchi's beside "to advise".

The family also expressed their gratitude for the "messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us".

As the FIA, world motorsport's governing body, demands answers from race director Charlie Whiting on how exactly the crash happened in wet conditions, the former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein said it was too early to give a detailed prognosis. "This has to be given time," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "Diffuse axonal injury means that the patient is not doing well, but the scan of the brain often looks normal. Let's wait for him to get out of intensive care, get the vital signs stable and then see."

Writing on his blog, Hartstein described DAI as damage to the "cabling" in the brain and said that because the injury is not located in a specific place it can make recovery harder. "DAI is usually associated with a sombre prognosis," he warned.

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