GENEVA (Reuters) - Michael Schumacher has left hospital to continue his recovery at home but the former Formula One champion faces "a long and difficult road ahead" after his skiing accident last year, a statement said on Tuesday.
"Henceforth, Michael's rehabilitation will take place at his home. Considering the severe injuries he suffered, progress has been made in the past weeks and months," said the brief statement issued by manager Sabine Kehm.
"There is still, however, a long and difficult road ahead.
"We ask that the privacy of Michael's family continue to be respected, and that speculations about his state of health are avoided."
A spokesman for the university hospital in Lausanne, confirmed that the 45-year-old German, a seven-times world champion, had been discharged earlier in the day.
No details were given on Schumacher's condition.
Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a ski accident in Meribel in the French Alps on Dec. 29 and was transferred by ambulance to Lausanne in June after emerging from a coma.
He underwent nearly three months of treatment in an outdoor section of the hospital known as "Jardin des Sens" or Garden of the Senses, shielded from view. It specialises in the recovery of severely traumatised neurological patients by exposing them to water, scents and other elements.
The family home is along Lake Geneva in the Swiss town of Gland, where he has lived quietly for years with his German wife Corinna and their two teenaged children.
Since the accident, she has visited her husband almost daily in Grenoble and Lausanne, taking time out recently for horse riding events or to attend the Montreux Jazz Festival in July.
Last month a man suspected of leaking Schumacher's medical files was found hanged in his police cell, Zurich's cantonal prosecutor said.
The man, who was not named, worked as a manager at Swiss air rescue service Rega, which was involved in Schumacher's transfer from Grenoble hospital to University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV).
The French daily "Le Dauphine Libere" reported in July that leaked documents were being offered to European media for some 60,000 Swiss francs.
Schumacher's family, via his agent Kehm, had said criminal charges and damages would be sought against anyone involved in the illegal sale or publication of his confidential records.
Schumacher, who won a record 91 F1 races, left the sport last year after a disappointing three-year comeback with Mercedes following an earlier retirement from Ferrari at the end of 2006.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Alan Baldwin and Pritha Sarkar)