Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 2508 17
07/11/2017
R. Basa
  • Permanent impairment {NEL} (degree of impairment) (back)
  • Permanent impairment {NEL} (rating schedule) (AMA Guides)

The worker suffered a back injury in 1991. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer confirming a zero NEL rating.

According to the AMA Guides, impairment of the spine is calculated first by obtaining a diagnosis-based percentage of impairment, secondly by testing range of motion and combining those two ratings and thirdly by identifying neurological deficits and combining that with the combined rating for diagnosis and range of motion.
The NEL assessor found no range of motion impairment, and did not complete the form regarding diagnosis-based impairment and neurologic deficit. The Vice-Chair found that there was a diagnosis-based impairment, specifically muscular ligamentous injury. This would receive a 5% rating under Table 53 Category IIB of the AMA Guides. Medical evidence did not indicate any neurologic deficit.
A zero regional impairment occurs when both combining values are zero. However, in this case, the rating for range of motion was zero but there should be a 5% rating for diagnosis-based impairment. Accordingly, the worker was entitled to a 5% NEL award. The appeal was allowed.