How the Quality of Life Plus Program (QL+) helped a disabled Army veteran
Tammy Landeen is a retired Army veteran living in Maine. She joined the army in 1995 and served as a mechanic and machinist. She left the army in 2005 and later that year she was involved in a horseback riding accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury at T12 and the loss of function of her legs. She uses a manual wheelchair.
Tammy likes to remain active and enjoys spending time outside. With Tammy’s passion for gardening and to help her independently use the tractor she and her husband have to plow their driveway in the snowy Maine winters, the Quality of Life Plus Program (QL+) assigned her projects to students at Virginia Tech.
The first project focused on a motorized garden chair. Previously, when Tammy wanted to garden, she would either hang uncomfortably over the side of her wheelchair or sit on the ground and pull herself along the ground, resulting in skin abrasions. A student team at Virginia Tech built her a low-to-the-ground go-kart style electric chair that allows Tammy to sit and garden more comfortably. The team added storage on the chair, so Tammy can bring her gardening tools with her.
The second project focused on helping Tammy get into her tractor independently. Before this, when Tammy wanted to use the tractor, her husband had to lift her from her wheelchair into the cab of the tractor. Her husband works long hours, and it can snow a lot in Maine, so Tammy wanted the ability to get into the tractor herself, so she could plow the snow in their driveway while her husband was at work. The second student team at Virginia Tech built her a hydraulic lift with a sling seat on a long arm. She clips herself into the sling from her wheelchair and then uses the lift to lift her out of her wheelchair and into the cab of the tractor. Now, she’s able to use the tractor any time she wants and can plow the driveway while her husband is away.
This year, Tammy will welcome her first grandchild into the family. A student team is designing and will build a device that allows Tammy to clip a stroller to her manual wheelchair so she can go places with her granddaughter independently.