Robotic arm man Christian Kandlbauer dies in hospital after crash [news]

News report:

An Austrian man who was the first in Europe to wear an innovative high-tech artificial arm has died after the car he was driving veered off the road and crashed into a tree.

Christian Kandlbauer lost both of his arms in an electrical accident in September 2005 but was able to live a largely normal life thanks to a mind-controlled robotic prosthetic left arm and a normal prosthesis in place of his right arm.

The 22-year-old died yesterday said Andreas Waltensdorfer, a senior physician at a hospital in the southern city of Graz, where Kandlbauer had been in intensive care since Tuesday, the day of the crash.

The cause of the crash remains unclear. Both Waltensdorfer and local police said today it was impossible to tell whether the accident was caused by problems with Kandlbauer's prosthetic arms.

Kandlbauer, who drove himself to work every morning after getting his driver's licence last year, had said his quality of life improved dramatically due to the mind-controlled prothesis, which recognised signals from his brain and moved accordingly.

"Thanks to the mind-controlled prothesis, I'm almost as independent and self-reliant as I was before my accident," Kandlbauer said in comments on the Web site of Otto Bock HealthCare Products, the company that produced the prothesis. "I can pretty much live the life before the accident."

Kandlbauer's car was adapted with special equipment and was approved by local transportation authorities.

Notburga Halbauer, a spokeswoman for Otto Bock, said Kandlbauer was the first person outside the United States to wear the mind-controlled prothesis.

Men, young men, cars, fast cars, always are a combination that sometimes end tragically. In this instance, all that remains is to wish the family and friends all the best.

Further considerations:

Investigation with post mortem / autopsy of both body and bionic arms after a car crash probably requires a lot of high tech expertise that will be similar to some helicopter or plane crashes.

Personally, I'd definitely check the battery status of the arms today (rather than tomorrow) but if all went well, they surely already did that on the day of the accident (Tuesday October 19th 2010). If anyone saw him steer until shortly beforehand most likely these batteries were charged - but aging products do have a faster discharge so age needs to be checked also. Last but not the least, these batteries should probably be opened and checked also on their insides.

Then, I'd try to get a full independent device test of any prosthetic part still found after the crash. I'd get that done by a manufacturer independent accredited testing authority as to basic functionality, cable and motor status and whatever still can be ascertained given the extensive nature of the crash with out-of-testing-laboratory advice by Otto Bock technicians.

And I'd probably be interested in a point by point examination of all skin / muscle / electrode sites to check for any pathological changes (fibrosis, deposits, injuries, etc.).

Then, gloves / hands will need to be checked for small debris that my indicate last activities but that can be extremely hard to figure out - as in airplane or helicopter crashes.

Furthermore, the accident site and some part of the road that was driven before the accident may have to be checked for electromagnetic fields. Also, the car (or what is left of it) needs to be checked for devices that may cause interference. That would be because myoelectric arms can fail due to interference.

Ultimately I guess that one may be rather difficult to figure out. You never know what happened until you exclude all kinds of failure options.


Turns out that Kandlbauer apparently announced his death to girlfriend and his mother via SMS - making it a likely suicide. Which points to the fact that depression in amputees is raging.


Prothesen-Träger Kandlbauer: Alles deutet auf Selbstmord hin
13. Dezember 2010, 15:29

22-Jähriger war im Oktober mit Auto frontal gegen Baum geprallt - SMS an Freundin und Mutter untermauern Suizid-These

Graz - Die Akte zum Tod von Christian Kandlbauer (22), der als erster Mensch weltweit eine gedankengesteuerte und fühlende Armprothese trug und am 19. Oktober in seiner oststeirischen Heimat mit dem Auto gegen einen Baum fuhr und starb, ist geschlossen: Wie die Staatsanwaltschaft Graz am Montag mitteilte habe das nun abgeschlossene Ermittlungsverfahren keinerlei Hinweise auf Fremdbeteiligung ergeben. Einen kausalen Zusammenhang mit den Prothesen oder dem umgebauten Fahrzeug gebe es nicht.

Ermittlungen eingestellt

Laut dem Sprecher der Staatsanwaltschaft Graz, Hans-Jörg Bacher, sei mit Vorlage des Abschlussberichts der Polizei das Ermittlungsverfahren eingestellt worden. Es sei mit "an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit" von einem Suizid auszugehen, was auch durch die Ankündigung mittels SMS an Freundin und Mutter untermauert werde.

Schweres Schädel-Hirn-Trauma

Kandlbauer war am 19. Oktober gegen 7.15 Uhr mit seinem für seine Bedürfnisse leicht modifizierten Subaru auf der L401 bei Leitersdorf (Bezirk Hartberg) von der Straße abgekommen und rechts frontal gegen einen Baum geprallt. Der Lenker, der am 6. November seinen 23. Geburtstag gefeiert hätte, wurde geborgen und mit einem schweren Schädel-Hirn-Trauma ins LKH Graz gebracht, wo er intensivmedizinisch behandelt wurde. Er starb zwei Tage später.

Der Oststeirer hatte am 9. November 2005 bei einem Stromunfall beide Arme verloren. Zuletzt hatten ihm Mediziner eine neuartige Bionik-Prothese für die linke Hand angepasst, mit der er nicht nur fühlen, sondern diese auch per Gedanken steuern konnte. An der rechten Hand trug er eine myoelektrische Prothese. (APA)

Maybe putting too much emphasis on high tech and not enough on spiritual, emotional and social well being can be a problem too. Because these issues are huge.

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: - Robotic arm man Christian Kandlbauer dies in hospital after crash [news]; published 24/10/2010, 14:25; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1685681087, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{ - Robotic arm man Christian Kandlbauer dies in hospital after crash [news]}}, month = {October}, year = {2010}, url = {} }