Rating Spinal Nerve Extremity Impairment Using the Sixth Edition (Authoritative Article*)
Christopher R. Brigham
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The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Sixth Edition, does not provide a separate mechanism for rating spinal nerve injuries as extremity impairment; radiculopathy was reflected in the spinal rating process in Chapter 17, The Spine and Pelvis. Certain jurisdictions, such as the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), rate nerve root injury as impairment involving the extremities rather than as part of the spine. This article presents an approach to rate spinal nerve impairments consistent with the AMA Guides, Sixth Edition, methodology. This approach should be used only when a jurisdiction requires ratings for extremities and precludes rating for the spine. A table in this article compares sensory and motor deficits according to the AMA Guides, Sixth and Fifth Editions; evaluators should be aware of changes between editions in methodology used to assign the final impairment. The authors present two tables regarding spinal nerve impairment: one for the upper extremities and one for the lower extremities. Both tables were developed using the methodology defined in the sixth edition. Using these tables and the process defined in the AMA Guides, Sixth Edition, evaluators can rate spinal nerve impairments for jurisdictions that do not permit rating for the spine and require rating for radiculopathy as an extremity impairment.

Contributor Notes

Authoritative articles reflect an official AMA interpretation, application or clarification. They are approved by the AMA Guides Editorial Panel and represent authoritative guidance on how to apply the AMA Guides but are not considered an official revision to the AMA Guides.

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