Obstacles to Claiming Permanence and Injury-Relatedness for “Posttraumatic” Headache
Robert J. Barth
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“Posttraumatic” headaches claims are controversial because they are subjective reports often provided in the complex of litigation, and the underlying pathogenesis is not defined. This article reviews principles and scientific considerations in the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides) that should be noted by evaluators who examine such cases. Some examples in the AMA Guides, Sixth Edition, may seem to imply that mild head trauma can cause permanent impairment due to headache. The author examines scientific findings that present obstacles to claiming that concussion or mild traumatic brain injury is a cause of permanent headache. The World Health Organization, for example, found a favorable prognosis for posttraumatic headache, and complete recovery over a short period of time was the norm. Other studies have highlighted the lack of a dose-response correlation between trauma and prolonged headache complaints, both in terms of the frequency and the severity of trauma. On the one hand, scientific studies have failed to support the hypothesis of a causative relationship between trauma and permanent or prolonged headaches; on the other hand, non–trauma-related factors are strongly associated with complaints of prolonged headache.

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