Bionic-armed driver in car crash in Austria

Image caption,
Christian Kandlbauer passed his driving test in a specially adapted car

A man thought to be the first person in the world to drive a car using a mind-controlled robotic limb has been seriously hurt in a car crash in Austria, according to local media.

Christian Kandlbauer, 22, was found in the wreckage of his Subaru, which caught fire after smashing into a tree.

"Looking at the state of the wreck, it's a miracle he got out at all," a police officer was reported as saying.

It is not known whether his bionic arm played any role in the accident.

Mr Kandlbauer is being treated at a hospital in Graz, Austria, according to Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

He was found by a lorry driver who came across his burning car on a road near Bad Waltersdorf in south-east Austria.

The driver managed to put out the flames, but it needed firefighters to extract him from the mangled wreckage.

Patient and friend

Mr Kandlbauer lost both of his arms four years ago, after being shocked by 20,000 volts.

Image caption,
Christian Kandlbauer said his arm felt just like part of his body

He was fitted with a mind-controlled robotic arm by the medical technology company Otto Bock Healthcare, which said it was the first project of its kind in Europe.

Using both his left and right arm - which was a normal prosthetic limb - he was able to pass his driving test in a specially converted car.

The Austrian newspaper Kurier quoted a spokesman from the Otto Bock clinic saying: "He is not only one of our artificial limb patients, but also a friend for many of our staff. We're all thinking of him and hoping he'll get well soon."

Mr Kandlbauer was interviewed by the BBC about his revolutionary limb earlier this year.

"I feel very happy," he said at the time. "It is like my earlier arm - I feel that my arm is a part of my body."

He had returned to work as a warehouse clerk at the garage that once employed him as a mechanic.

He said he was grateful that he had the freedom to get on with his life.

"With the prosthesis I am able to do things in my daily life alone without the help of another person," he said. "I am independent."

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