Super Bowl Winning Quarterback Drew Brees recently recently discussed his long-standing right shoulder problems. In 2005, while playing for the San Diego Chargers, he dislocated his shoulder. Now-in 2023- he can no longer throw with his right hand. Brees was told that the dislocated shoulder placed him on him on the “fast track to a degenerative shoulder, and all kinds of arthritic changes. I don’t throw with my right arm anymore. If I could, I would absolutely still be playing.’” Nola.com. Besides tossing a football, he reported problems using arm above his shoulder.
What Is Impairment and Why Does It Matter?
In California, Permanent Impairment is assigned to work injuries. This impairment is used to determine an Injured Worker’s Permanent Disability Percentage. In order to do so, the AMA Guides for Rating Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition, is employed. Impairment, per the guides is defined as ““a loss, loss of use, or derangement of any body part, organ system, or organ function.” Per the Guides, “[a]n impairment can be manifested objectively, for example, by a fracture, and/or subjectively, through fatigue and pain. Although the Guides emphasizes objective assessment, subjective symptoms are included within the diagnostic criteria. According to the Guides, determining whether an injury or illness results in a permanent impairment requires a medical assessment performed by a physician. An impairment may lead to functional limitations or the inability to perform activities of daily living.”
In Mr. Brees’ workers’ compensation case, throwing a football would not be considered as an impairment. Tossing a ball is not an Activity of Daily Living. (ADL) ADLs are as follows: ” Self-care, urinating, defecating, brushing teeth, personal hygiene combing hair, bathing, dressing oneself, eating Communication writing, typing, seeing, hearing, speaking Physical activity standing, sitting, reclining, walking, climbing stairs Sensory function hearing, seeing, tactile feeling, tasting, smelling Nonspecialized grasping, lifting, tactile hand activities discrimination Travel riding, driving, flying Sexual function orgasm, ejaculation, lubrication, erection Sleep restful, nocturnal sleep pattern.”
While Mr. Brees’ main complaint does not fall within the AMA guides as an activity of daily living, he did describe an impairment of the inability to use the arm above shoulder. Therefore, his ADL impairment would be related to putting on clothes or doing laundry. Additionally, his impairment would also be range of his lack of range of motion and other conditions.
Workers’ Compensation law also allows for doctors to most accurately describe the impairment should there be some difficulty in doing so. Per case law, a physician can deviate from the strict rating by doing the following: “(1) provide a strict rating per the AMA Guides; (2) explain why the strict rating does not accurately reflect the employee’s disability; (3) provide an alternative rating within the four corners of the AMA Guides; and (4) explain why the alternative rating most accurately reflects the employee’s level of disability.”
What If I Need Legal Advice?
If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 30 years. Contact us today for more information.