Abstract

Rating patients with head trauma and multiple neurological injuries can be challenging. The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Fifth Edition, Section 13.2, Criteria for Rating Impairment Due to Central Nervous System Disorders, outlines the process to rate impairment due to head trauma. This article summarizes the case of a 57-year-old male security guard who presents with headache, decreased sensation on the left cheek, loss of sense of smell, and problems with memory, among other symptoms. One year ago the patient was assaulted while on the job: his Glasgow Coma Score was 14; he had left periorbital ecchymosis and a 2.5 cm laceration over the left eyelid; a small right temporoparietal acute subdural hematoma; left inferior and medial orbital wall fractures; and, four hours after admission to the hospital, he experienced a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. This patient's impairment must include the following components: single seizure, orbital fracture, infraorbital neuropathy, anosmia, headache, and memory complaints. The article shows how the ratable impairments are combined using the Combining Impairment Ratings section. Because this patient has not experienced any seizures since the first occurrence, according to the AMA Guides he is not experiencing the “episodic neurological impairments” required for disability. Complex cases such as the one presented here highlight the need to use the criteria and estimates that are located in several sections of the AMA Guides.

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