High-Performance Prosthetics: Limb Lab Expands with Life-Changing Support

In its nine-year history, Rochester, Minnesota-based Limb Lab has expanded to eight locations nearly tripling its office presence and more than doubling its employee numbers in the past four years alone. Due to the nature of its services, boutique prosthetics and orthotics, Limb Lab has expanded with a blend of “high performance” and “humane” characteristics, according to Chief Growth Officer Brian M. Childs. 

“If you’re driven but not nice, you won’t last at Limb Lab,” Childs said when asked about its cultural attributes. “And if you’re nice, but not deeply committed to high-quality, accountable work, we’ll wish you the very best and try to support you in your search for work elsewhere.”

When Limb Lab opened in downtown Lincoln next to Canopy Street Market, the 5,000-square-foot space represented the company’s fifth facility and its first outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Its 2019 opening also preceded COVID-19 being declared a nationwide emergency by mere months. 

 Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

“Operating any office during a crisis such as COVID-19 is an all-hands-on-deck experience,” Childs remarked. “Managing the crisis successfully requires the best of all involved. I think opening in the crucible of COVID-19 sharpened the focus of our team there, which managed very capably through the crisis and continues to manage capably through ongoing concerns related to COVID-19.”

When asked about local growth, Childs referred to a “warm reception” from the Lincoln community and stated that expansion in the two-state area of Nebraska and Iowa is “far from finished.” 

 Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

“We attribute that warm reception, in part, to the way we conduct our work,” Childs explained. “We are honored and humbled to think that people have recognized our commitment to the highest-quality care and our drive to provide genuine hospitality.”

He also credited its growth to Jason Dean, Limb Lab’s market president and a long-time capital city resident.   

“Jason is an extremely talented clinician; he’s a leader in our company,” Childs said. “He’s also unquestionably committed to the community of Lincoln.”

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A certified prosthetist and orthotist, Dean shared with the Limb Lab community his introduction to prosthetics and orthotics in high school shop class. 

“I loved building just about anything, from furniture to cabinets to houses,” Dean noted. “I went on to complete my undergraduate studies at Doane College, where I volunteered and became a technician for a prosthetic company in Lincoln. I was sold right then and there. I loved fabricating, fitting and meeting everyone who came into the office.”

Few things, according to Dean, make him feel better or prouder than creating devices that affect people “in the direct and personal ways that my work does.” 

High-Impact Meets High-Performance

Since Limb Lab’s Lincoln debut, Childs said it has recently opened locations in Des Moines and Iowa City. 

“We intend to announce another close-by opening soon,” he added. “We’re currently building out the space, and we have several more developments in our pipeline.”

These three locations are joined by its recently-expanded La Crosse, Wisconsin location, as well as its Rochester “nerve center,” and facilities in Mankato and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Scottsdale, Arizona. 

“When thinking about new markets, we assess whether a community could benefit from our services,” Childs said. “We think about clinical talent in an area and also about real estate opportunity.”

Childs attributes its capacity to expand to team members’ excellence at every level.

“In C-level management, each of Limb Lab’s owners brings specific experience that helps our growth,” Childs explained. “Marty Frana, our CEO, has nearly two decades of deep experience in the industry. He focuses on reimbursement and revenue-cycle matters, among other aspects of the business. Our Chief Clinical Officer Brandon Sampson has been a prosthetist for over 20 years.”

Childs agreed that there is something to be said for its being headquartered in a health care capital.

“Mayo Clinic is, of course, headquartered in Rochester, and we are grateful to have a strong working relationship with Mayo and its world-class clinical staff,” he said. “And, because people come to Mayo Clinic Rochester seeking help with some of the most complex medical issues imaginable, we experience more opportunities to deploy cutting-edge prosthetic and orthotic technologies in Rochester than we do in any other of our offices.”

 Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Jason Dean, market president, Limb Lab (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Mayo Clinic’s abiding commitment to the best interests of its patients, Childs said, is in Limb Lab’s DNA, too.

Furthermore, Sampson, who is co-founder, works actively with clinicians across the company on complex questions and care plans from Limb Lab’s Rochester office.

“As the company has grown, Brandon’s own practice has shrunk, by design, as he’s become increasingly available to teach and advise Limb Lab’s dispersed clinicians,” Childs said. “Our Rochester office also houses the company’s most robust fabrication facility. So, technicians in Rochester handle components for people across all of our offices.”

To further “bridge the miles,” Childs said Limb Lab has made significant investments in technology to help team members connect.

“Investments range from those that will be familiar to your readers, such as Zoom, to those that are highly customized, such as our app, Limb Lab Connect,” he said. “We are constantly working on ways to improve connectedness across our offices.”

Limb Lab is located at 110 S. Canopy Street in the Canopy Row building in Lincoln. (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Limb Lab is located at 110 S. Canopy Street
in the Canopy Row building in Lincoln. (photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Helping Others, Moving Forward

A Princeton graduate and experienced corporate attorney in Boston and Minneapolis, Childs joined the company in September 2018 after serving as outside legal counsel to Limb Lab. In his bio, Childs is quoted as saying he is responsible for growing its core clinical practice and for expanding its activities in “adjacent markets, including financial services, device-development, and central fabrication.”

Childs also referred to growth through acquisitions and strategic ventures. 

“Limb Lab is constantly on the lookout for excellent businesses that we could acquire or with which we could otherwise combine,” he said. “A common source of interest for us is other clinical offices in complementary geographies.”

He also emphasized those offices with teams who share values of excellent, accountable work.  

Childs has an ongoing goal to focus on improving the lives of patients at Limb Lab. 

“We undoubtedly want to grow, and devote considerable resources to related efforts. 

“At the same time, we’re keenly aware that many of the people whom we’re privileged to help have sought us out because of the very individualized attention we give them.”

A primary way Limb Lab is managing this “tension,” Childs said, is by empowering market presidents to assume greater managerial control of the offices under their leadership.

“This effort is, in turn, fed by new efforts to convene our market presidents as a group to discuss high-level strategy, best practices and opportunities,” he added.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and device donations have been poured into the Limb Lab Foundation as well to, as Childs puts it, “work on behalf of people who need prosthetic and orthotic care, but cannot afford it.”

A display of the various devices available to be custom fit to clients.(photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
A display of the various devices available to be custom fit to clients.(photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

“Along the way, we have met and provided free care to some beautifully compelling people,” he said. 

Childs referred to a young girl from Jamaica with an above-knee amputation. Prior to Limb Lab fitting her with a donated device, she wasn’t able to walk or play. Now, her active childhood has been restored. Another young woman was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that led to complete amputation of her leg — to her hip.

“We helped by flying staff from other offices in to build a device in the space of two clinical days,” he said, while adding that the foundation has supported “many other people who would have been forced to forego needed care because co-pays were prohibitive.”

110 S. Canopy Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: 402-314-4741
Website:  LimbLab.com