Abstract

Most impairments are expressed ultimately as a whole person impairment, and the musculoskeletal chapters of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides) include instructions for converting regional impairments to whole person impairments using a percentage relationship. This article presents an extensive table that incorporates the conversion factors for extremity and spinal impairments. Occasionally evaluators need to convert spinal impairments from whole person to impairment of the spine, a process that is explained in the AMA Guides, Section 15.13. The conversion factors differ depending on whether the impairment was obtained using the Diagnosis-related estimate (DRE) method or the range-of-motion (ROM) method. For example, a 5% whole person impairment is an 8% upper extremity impairment, a 9% hand impairment, 23% thumb impairment, 46% index/middle finger impairment, or 93% ring/little finger impairment. The same 5% whole person impairment would convert to a cervical spine impairment of 14% cervical spine if the DRE method were used and 6% if the ROM method were used. For the lumbar spine, this would convert to 7% lumbar spine impairment if the DRE method were used and 6% if the ROM method were used. The table in this article provides values for converting foot to lower extremity impairment and for converting whole person impairment to regional spinal impairment.

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