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Alex Zanardi showing ‘significant improvements’ in crash recovery

Alex Zanardi recovery

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24: Former Driver Alex Zanardi sits during a presentation of his 1998 CART Championship winning Target Honda Reynard from team owner Chip Ganassi before the final practice on Carb Day for the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24, 2013 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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MILAN -- Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi again was released from intensive care on Wednesday after showing “significant improvements” in his recovery from a handbike crash.

Zanardi was moved back into intensive care last month, just three days after being transferred to a neurological rehabilitation center. He was seriously injured in a handbike crash in June.

“The patient has responded with significant clinical improvements,” read a statement from the Milan hospital where he is being treated.

“For that reason he is currently being treated with semi-intensive care at the Operational Unit of Neurorianimation.”

Zanardi underwent three delicate surgeries at a hospital in Siena to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, had been on a ventilator in a medically induced coma since the crash.

He suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

He was a winner and two-time champion in the CART series who also drove in Formula One and IMSA, most recently in the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

In June, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.