Abstract

The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), does not provide a Diagnosis-based estimate of impairment due to syringomyelia, a disorder in which a cyst (syrinx), develops within the central spinal cord and destroys neural tissue as it expands. The AMA Guides, however, does provide an approach to rating a syringomyelia based on objective findings of neurological deficits identified during a neurological examination and demonstrated by standard diagnostic techniques. Syringomelia may occur after spinal cord trauma, including a contusion of the cord. A case study illustrates the rating process: The case patient is a 46-year-old male who fell backwards, landing on his upper back and head; over a five-year period he received a T5-6 laminectomy and later partial corpectomies of C5, C6, and C7, cervical discectomy C5-6 and C6-7; iliac crest strut graft fusion of C5-6 and C6-7; and anterior cervical plating of C5 to C7 for treatment of myelopathy; postoperatively, the patient developed dysphagia. The evaluating physician should determine which conditions are ratable, rate each of these components, and combine the resulting whole person impairments without omission or duplication of a ratable impairment. The article includes a pain disability questionnaire that can be used in conjunction with evaluations conducted according to Chapter 3, Pain, and Chapter 17, The Spine.

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