In the beginning…
Limbs & Things was established in 1990 by medical illustrator Margot Cooper (a member of the Medical Artists Association of Great Britain since 1968 and a Past President on the council of administration of the European Association of Medical & Scientific Illustrators).
Through her work in the area of medical education she identified a growing need for a form of training away from patients, cadavers and animals. The rapid development of Minimal Access Surgery (keyhole surgery), day surgery, the Patient’s Charter and reduced hospital hours were just some of the factors influencing a movement toward a new way of gaining skills. She therefore decided to specialise in three dimensional models. Her first products included dynamic anatomical models of the foot and spine, as well as synthetic soft tissue models containing pathologies such as varicoceles and perianal haematomas.
Early developers of laparoscopic simulators
During the early 1990s when laparoscopic surgery was in its infancy the small development team at Limbs & Things was busy producing models to address the obvious training needs for this new direction in surgery. A number of prototypes quickly evolved into the company’s first commercially available laparoscopic product: the Bodyform, which was launched at the Royal Society of Medicine in 1994. The product took on the form of an abdomen and pelvis with anatomical landmarks and internal components representing realistic simulated organs.
A number of specialist laparoscopic surgeons were very much a part of the development and evaluation of this flagship product: Sir Alfred Cuschieri, Professor Mike McMahon, Mr Harry Espiner and Mr Jerry Kirk.
Design, innovation and manufacture
By the late 1990s the expanded development team of sculptors, designers and engineers was combining traditional model-making methods with Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools producing models to a higher standard and greater sophistication. This also helped improve quality and consistency of production practices. Scan data from human subjects was first used around this time, and has been successfully incorporated into top selling products such as the PROMPT Birthing Simulator and the Clinical Female Pelvic Trainer Mk3.
A significant patent was granted to the Company in the area of technology for simulating skin and the method of casting it into shapes, with a further patent awarded in respect of a skills training system based on structured training using synthetic models.
Limbs & Things is one of the few British companies that manufacturers over 90 percent of its own products not just in the UK, but actually onsite in the UK headquarters. Processes include vacuum casting as well as silicone rubber and latex foam production.
Growing global presence
Over the years a growing international distributor network has been successfully established covering over 70 countries on all five continents, including France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Mexico. Subsidiary offices have been established in both Australia and the United States of America.
Limbs & Things presence in the market is underlined by active participation in international exhibitions: Margot Cooper (President), Nic Riley (Managing Director) and other senior members of the different departments have been invited to speak at medical meetings throughout the world.
The goal of the company is to deliver products which allow clinical educators to successfully deliver their curriculum requirements in physical examination & procedural skills. This will be achieved by continuing to work closely with leading clinicians and embracing new materials & technologies to help meet the educational needs of the customers of tomorrow.