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Claimant was involved in an accepted 8/13/2015 work accident involving a lumbar injury, with limited medical benefits paid through treatment cessation on 7/20/17. Claimant resumed treatment in October 2018, which was denied as not causally related to the work accident.
In an IAB Decision on Claimant’s petition for benefits, the Board found that Claimant sustained only a resolved lumbar strain/sprain injury in the work accident, which returned to her pre-existing baseline condition by 7/20/17, accepting the opinion of Defense Expert, Dr. Gelman, over that of Claimant’s treating physician, Dr. Bakst. The evidence established that Claimant’s low back and left leg were chronically symptomatic dating back to a 1998 non-work-related automobile accident. Even though, the Claimant suggested that she had no back problems from 2000 until the 2015 work event, her medical records suggested otherwise with additional employment record evidence of periodic work absences due to back pain in the same time frame. Her condition at the time of the 7/20/17 treatment discharge was similar to her pre-injury, baseline condition. Her own physician’s physical examination at that time was benign with low pain scores and she did not return to treatment for 15 months. The Board also rejected Claimant’ s testimony that the reason for the treatment gap was due to personal issues finding that the Claimant was able to treat for other non-work-related medical conditions during the 15-month gap. The Board further questioned whether Claimant’s October 2018 presentation was truly a “flare up” of the original work injury noting that although Claimant pointed to her right sided MRI findings as evidence of a structural disc injury, Claimant’s lower extremity complaints were consistently left sided before and after the work injury. The Board went on to accept Dr. Gelman’s testimony that it is well established that the side where the herniation and compression are displayed on MRI correlates with which side leg symptoms will present.
Should you have any questions concerning this Decision, please contact our Firm Heckler & Frabizzio at 302-573-4800www.hfddel.com.
Michelle Westbrook v. Walgreens, IAB Hrg. No. 1432077 (May 11, 2020).