Veterans at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital are getting new technology that’s already helping recovery.
It’s a new 3D printer that’s sparking creativity and innovation, and it's one of Quan Taylor’s favorite parts of his recreational therapy at the hospital.
Taylor, a Navy veteran, is partially paralyzed. So far, he’s used the printer to make an adapted cell phone holder for his wheelchair. He also has plans to make an adaptive Playstation controller for patients at the hospital who can’t use their hands.
“The idea behind having 3D printing is it allows them to continue to be creative, to continue to process and do things and build things in a more structured way,” said Jamie Kaplan, a recreational therapist.
The printer has also created prosthetic limbs for wounded warriors.
It’s helping Taylor to fight one of the toughest battles of all: memories of what landed him in the hospital in the first place.
Less than a year ago, the 28-year-old was going to the grocery store in his native Atlanta, when a teenager took a liking to his bright orange Camaro. It was the car the veteran had always worked for.
“The guy said give me the keys to your car and the money you just put in your pocket,” Taylor recalled. “I threw him everything and started running. The guy that was with him told him to shoot me.”
That’s when Taylor says he felt a bullet pierce his back.
“He comes over the top of me, and as I turn I flip over on my back and he shot me all in my stomach and in my chest. I got shot 11 to 14 times,” Taylor said.
Now partially paralyzed, he asked if he could print the bullet that paralyzed him. He wears it as a necklace.
“For him, it was a statement that, ‘I’m still me and I’ve progressed in my rehab to the point where I’m comfortable seeing what put me here,” said Kaplan.
The staff hopes to see the technology continue to help veterans two-fold on their road to recovery.
“It makes you want to create things. It makes you want to use your mind. Often times being injured you shut down, and you don’t want to use your mind. You want to ball up and curl up. This makes you want to explore different opportunities,” Taylor said.
The funds for the printer were donated by the TAMCO Foundation and the Injured Warriors Foundation of Florida.