ROCHESTER, Minn. – At one time, the prospect of losing a limb meant being confined to a wheelchair or completely changing how an amputee lived their life, but as technology catches up with creativity, there is new hope.
Derek Johnson was your typical student athlete in high school. He was involved in baseball, track, wrestling, and football, but come his sophomore year, a night of on the field changed his life.
“I got tackled. I tore my ACL, PCL, LCL, some nerves, and pinched an artery. When I pinched that artery, I was without blood flow to the leg for over ten hours, and most of the muscle in my calf ended up dying because of the lack of blood flow I had in my leg,” said Johnson.
Johnson was air-lifted from the football field to Mayo clinic. He spent months, undergoing rehabilitation to try to get the feeling back in his leg, but nothing really worked. When his junior year came around, Johnson had a choice to make.
“The decision to make the amputation was a pretty easy one for me. My leg was so worthless, and the pain that I had in it. Even pulling the covers up over my feet at night, that’s something that worried me,” said Johnson.
Then he met Brandon Sampson, founder of Limb Lab. Sampson worked with Johnson to make the perfect prosthetic leg.
“Our first and foremost priority is sitting down with the people we work with, and listing the top five things that they want to do. We then make that list, and at the end of the trip, we provide them the tools to get the job done,” said Sampson.
Sampson says that attitude has been working out well for them so far, and it’s got him to the point of opening up another store in Rochester.
“It’s this whole new way of looking at a disability and making it an ability, and making it something people are becoming more functional with,” said Sampson.
“I’m just hoping that they understand the detail that these guys go into. It’s the reason why I’ve been with them for so long, it’s just because I’ve had a good leg that’s given me the ability to do everything that I possibly could,” said Johnson.
Limb Lab’s first store opened in Mankato. They’ll be opening up another store in Sioux City, Iowa soon.