American Spine Society in Burr Ridge helps professionals keep learning
North American Spine Society Executive Director Eric J. Muehlbauer (right) talks about features while in the auditorium at the Burr Ridge facility. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
NAME: North American Spine Society
SPECIALTY: Non-profit medical society focused on improving spine medicine through advocacy, research and education.
LOCATION: 7075 Veterans Blvd., Bur Ridge
Updated: September 10, 2012 2:00AM
BURR RIDGE — Housed in what once was the backbone of one of the village’s largest corporate residents, the North American Spine Society has made its home in Burr Ridge.
The international society of spine experts moved into the building at 7075 Veterans Blvd., once the technology hub for agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer CNH, in 2007.
“We gutted the entire place,” Executive Director Eric Muehlbauer said.
Visible from County Line Road, the NASS building boasts a unique and apropos architecture known as a vertebral roof line.
“Fittingly, it looks like vertebrae,” Public Affairs Manager Nicolle Heller said.
NASS’ move from La Grange to its 40,000-square-foot home in Burr Ridge was made with growth in mind. The society, which began with 850 members and 3.5 employees in 1984, has grown to include more than 7,000 members, more than 50 employees and hundreds of volunteers.
NASS’ 7,000 members include orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, neurologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, researchers, physical therapists and other spine care professionals.
“We have lots of room to grow here,” Heller said.
According to Muehlbauer, the field of spine care is growing along with the country’s active and aging population.
“The 75-year-old still wants to play tennis,” he said.
The non-profit organization helps to make that happen by providing training in the latest techniques for spine care.
This continuing education takes place in the organization’s state-of-the-art laboratory, located on the lower level. Equipped with surgical equipment, the bio-skills laboratory provides a place for medical professionals to learn new methods using models and cadavers.
Just last month, a group of physicians gathered in the Burr Ridge facility to learn the latest techniques in lumbar spinal injections. In May, doctors came to learn and practice new surgical techniques.
No live patients are treated in the Burr Ridge facility, but it is equipped to handle living patients in case of a mass casualty incident, Muehlbauer said.
“The local fire departments are aware that it is here if needed,” he said.
Work also is taking place on the upper floor of the building, where publications such as SpineLine, a membership newsletter containing clinical information, and The Spine Journal, a monthly medical journal, are produced. The NASS staff also produces online continuing education opportunities and is expanding its use of video as a communication and professional training tool.
The main floor houses a high-tech auditorium that can be used as a classroom for non-clinical training, or a viewing area where professionals can watch what’s happening in the operating room below.
Technology allows professionals to receive training from experts around the world via teleconferencing.
“We can make the entire room a conference call,” Muehlbauer said.
The facility is made available to medical professionals from all disciplines, as well as groups outside of the medical field.
“We have a hernia course coming up in September,” Lab Coordinator Katira Shores said.
Each of these visitors brings business to Burr Ridge’s hotels, restaurants and businesses, Muehlbauer said, while enjoying easy access to highways and airports.
“It was kind of a natural place for us to be,” Heller said.