VIENNA, Austria – In the five years since losing both arms in an accident, Christian Kandlbauer had regained much of his cherished independence thanks to a high-tech, mind-controlled robotic limb. He even got a driver’s license.
Now the 22-year-old has died of injuries suffered when the car he was driving veered off the road and struck a tree. The cause of the crash is unknown – including whether the arm had anything to do with it.
“Don’t live for others, live for yourself!” Kandlbauer had written on his website, which on Friday was filled with condolences after hospital officials in the southern city of Graz said he did not recover from injuries sustained in Tuesday’s accident.
Kandlbauer was the first person outside the United States to wear the innovative, robotic limb that recognized signals from his brain and moved accordingly, said Otto Bock of HealthCare Products GmbH that produced the prosthesis.
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.
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 an auto repair shop and obtain his driver’s license in October 2009.
“Thanks to the mind-controlled prosthesis, I’m almost as independent and self-reliant as I was before my accident,” he said on the Otto Bock website.