What is an Impairment Rating?

What is an Impairment Rating?

Bay Area Chiropractor Comments: I waWhat Is An Impairment Rating?s in Austin last week doing a worker’s compensation examination on a lady when she asked me, “What is an impairment rating?” This was one of the questions that I was being asked to determine by the state in addition to; could she return to work (RTW) and was she at maximum medical improvement (MMI). The question reminded me that a lot of the terminology that doctors take for granted can be confusing to patients. 

Impairment is an alteration of an individual’s health status. To determine a permanent impairment rating, the impairment must be static and stable, sufficient time must be allowed for optimal tissue repair and it must be unlikely to change in spite of medical or surgical therapy. 

In Texas, there are approximately 450 doctors (medical, osteopathic and chiropractic) certified to be a designated doctor for worker’s comp patients to determine questions such as “What is the impairment rating?” To do this, the state of Texas mandates that we utilize the American Medical Association’s “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” 4th edition. The guides evaluate if any surgeries were performed, is there a decrease in the range of motion (ROM) of a joint, is there a decrease in strength or sensation, has there been an amputation or fusion. The doctor then takes these values and places them in several tables, charts and figures to determine what the patient’s impairment is. Usually this number is less than what the patient thinks it should be. This is because in most cases pain is not rated. Since it cannot be measured, it cannot be rated.

Impairment ratings can be used for other examinations as well such as following any type of accident where an impairment value needs to be given to determine the effect of an injury.

Now to answer the lady’s original question of “What is an impairment rating?” it is a number value to show what percentage of your entire body (whole person) was permanently impaired as a result of the accident or injury.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at www.BeecherChiropractic.com or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!