Robotic arm man dies after crash

A man who received a high-tech, mind controlled robotic arm when he lost both arms in a power-line accident five years ago has died after his vehicle veered off the road and hit a tree.

Christian Kandbauer, 22, had regained much of his independence following his first horrific accident, even getting his driving licence back.

But he died when the car he was driving veered off the road last week in Graz, southern Austria.

It is not known whether the robotic arm had anything to do with the crash.

His website was filled with condolences after hospital officials confirmed he failed to recover from the injuries sustained in the crash.

Kandlbauer said he lost both arms when he was 17 after climbing up a utility pole and getting shocked by touching a power line in September 2005.

He was the first person outside the United States to wear the innovative, robotic limb that recognises signals from his brain and moves accordingly, said Otto Bock of HealthCare Products GmbH that produced the prothesis.

With a normal prosthesis for his right arm and the high-tech prosthesis in place of his left, Kandlbauer's daily life had largely returned to normal. He was able to get a job at a warehouse for a car repair shop and get his driving licence in October 2009.

"Thanks to the mind-controlled prothesis, I'm almost as independent and self-reliant as I was before my accident," he said in comments on the Otto Bock HealthCare Products GmbH website. "I can pretty much live the life before the accident."

For the prothesis to work, four of Kandlbauer's nerves were redirected to his left chest muscles, expert Hubert Egger was quoted as saying on the website.

To enable Kandlbauer to drive himself to work every morning, his Subaru Impreza was adapted with special equipment, including a modified emergency brake and a button to operate the horn, indicator lights and windshield wipers. It was approved by local transportation authorities.

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