Impairment for Cauda Equina Syndrome In Texas Workers Compensation

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The Appeals Panel of the Texas Workers Compensation recently published an appeal regarding a claimant that had been diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the nerve bundles of the lumbar region of the spine. The nerve roots are compressed and paralyzed, cutting off sensation and movement. Nerve roots that control the function of the bladder and bowel are especially vulnerable to damage. The hearing officer found that although the compensable injury included Cauda Equina Syndrome, but that it did not include bowel dysfunction. It appears that the hearing officer had to choose from an impairment rating that included radiculopathy without Cauda Equina Syndrome (DRE Cat III), or an impairment rating that included Cauda Equina Syndrome, but also included bowel dysfunction (DRE Cat VII). The hearing officer stayed on the conservative side and found the DRE Cat III, which yielded a 10% impairment rating. Claimant appealed and the Division’s Appeals Panel reversed the decision and remanded it back to the hearing officer to get an impairment rating which included all the compensable conditions in the rating. This case establishes that not only must an impairment rating provide a rating for each of the different conditions; it must rate the entire extent of those conditions. The rating must be based upon the injured workers condition on the date of maximum medical improvement. (Appeals Panel Decision No. 132173). Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, (214)357-1782, info@themorrisfirm.net

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