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.