Updated: Monday, 03 February 2014 08:03 | By Agence France-Presse

Brazil freestyle skier improving

Brazilian freestyle skier and Olympic hope Lais Souza is slowly recovering after last week's training accident in the United States which left her unable to move her arms and legs, her team doctor said Sunday.

Brazil freestyle skier improving

Brazil's Lais Souza concentrates before performing during a floor exercise qualifying round on March 18, 2006 in Lyon, central eastern France - by Martin Bureau

Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos told Brazil's SporTV that former gymnast Souza, who was fighting for her life following last Monday's accident, was making gradual progress at Utah University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

"(Her) arterial pressure is better -- we are reducing  arterial support," Dr Marttos said.

He added Souza was breathing better -- albeit with assistance -- and he believed there was "a big chance" of her recovering full breathing capabilities.

Dr Marttos added a tube had been inserted a into Souza's windpipe to facilitate air reaching her vocal chords.

During training in the western US state of Utah last Monday, the 25-year-old Souza, who competed as a gymnast in the summer Olympics in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) before missing london 2012 through injury, slammed into a tree.

"A branch hit her in the neck," damaging the spine's third vertebra, said Stefano Arnhold, president of the Brazilian winter sports Confederation.

Souza underwent surgery to realign her spine and enable her to move her shoulders but faces further surgery. 

Souza chose to switch to freestyle skiing and had hoped to compete in her first winter Olympics in Sochi from Friday.

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