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Delaware General AssemblyDelaware RegulationsMonthly Register of RegulationsJuly 2013

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19 DE Admin. Code 1342
The Secretary of Labor, in accordance with 19 Del.C. §§2322C, has proposed revisions to the rules and regulations relating to the practice guidelines in the Delaware Workers' Compensation Health Care Payment System (HCPS). These proposals to the PART F Cervical Treatment Guidelines adds the effective date; deletes references to maximum medical improvements; and changes the number of maximum allowable treatments or visits, primarily in the section Therapy - Passive.
Pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322C, health care practice guidelines have been adopted and recommended by the Health Care Advisory Panel to guide utilization of health care treatments in workers' compensation including, but not limited to, care provided for the treatment of employees by or under the supervision of a licensed health care provider, prescription drug utilization, inpatient hospitalization and length of stay, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, chiropractic care and palliative care. The health care practice guidelines apply to all treatments provided after the effective date of the regulation adopted by the Department of Labor, May 23, 2008, and regardless of the date of injury. The cervical treatment guidelines were added to the list of treatment guidelines, effective June 1, 2009. The guidelines are, to the extent permitted by the most current medical science or applicable science, based on well-documented scientific research concerning efficacious treatment for injuries and occupational disease. To the extent that well-documented scientific research regarding the above is not available at the time of, adoption of the guidelines, or is not available at the time of any revision to the guidelines, the guidelines have been and will be based upon the best available information concerning national consensus regarding best health care practices in the relevant health care community.
Services rendered by any health care provider certified pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322D(a) to provide treatment or services for injured employees shall be presumed, in the absence of contrary evidence, to be reasonable and necessary if such treatment and/or services conform to the most current version of the Delaware health care practice guidelines.
Services provided by any health care provider that is not certified pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322D(a) shall not be presumed reasonable and necessary unless such services are preauthorized by the employer or insurance carrier, subject to the exception set forth in 19 Del.C. §2322D(b).
2.1 TREATMENT PARAMETER With respect to Therapy (Active or Passive), time frames/visits for specific interventions commence once treatments have been initiated, not on the date of injury. Obviously, duration will be impacted by patient compliance, as well as comorbitities and availability of services. Clinical judgment may substantiate the need to accelerate or decelerate modify the time frames total number of visits discussed in this document. The majority of injured workers with Cervical pain often will achieve resolution of their condition within 8 to 24 visits (Guide to Physical Therapy Practice - Second Edition). It is anticipated that most injured workers will not require the maximum number of visits described in these guidelines. They are designed to be a ceiling and care extending beyond the maximum allowed visits may warrant utilization review.
2.2 ACTIVE INTERVENTIONS emphasizing patient responsibility, such as therapeutic exercise and/or functional treatment, are generally emphasized over passive modalities, especially as treatment progresses. Generally, passive interventions are viewed as a means to facilitate progress in an active rehabilitation program with concomitant attainment of objective functional gains. All rehabilitation programs must incorporate "Active Interventions" no later than twelve visits or three weeks after the onset of treatment. Reimbursement for passive modalities only after the first twelve visits three weeks of treatment without clear evidence of Active Interventions will require supportive documentation.
2.3 ACTIVE THERAPEUTIC EXERCISE PROGRAM goals should incorporate patient strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and education. This includes functional application in vocational or community settings.
2.4 POSITIVE PATIENT RESPONSE results are defined primarily as functional gains that can be objectively measured. Objective functional gains include, but are not limited to, positional tolerances, range of motion (ROM), strength, endurance, activities of daily living, cognition, behavior, and efficiency/velocity measures that can be quantified. Subjective reports of pain and function should be considered and given relative weight when the pain has anatomic and physiologic correlation.
2.5 RE-EVALUATE TREATMENT EVERY 3 TO 4 WEEKS With respect to Therapy (Active or Passive), if a given treatment or modality is not producing positive results within 3 to 4 weeks, the treatment may be either modified or discontinued. Reconsideration of diagnosis should also occur in the event of poor response to a seemingly rational intervention.
2.6 SURGICAL INTERVENTIONS should be contemplated within the context of expected functional outcome and not purely for the purpose of pain relief. All operative interventions must be based upon positive correlation of clinical findings, clinical course, and diagnostic tests. A comprehensive assimilation of these factors must lead to a specific diagnosis with positive identification of pathologic conditions.
2.7 SIX-MONTH TIME FRAME The prognosis drops precipitously for returning an injured worker to work once he/she has been temporarily totally disabled for more than six months. The emphasis within these guidelines is to move patients along a continuum of care and return to work within a six-month time frame, whenever possible. It is important to note that time frames may not be pertinent to injuries that do not involve work-time loss or are not occupationally related.
2.8 RETURN-TO-WORK is therapeutic, assuming the work is not likely to aggravate the basic problem or increase long-term pain. The following physical limitations should be considered and modified as recommended: lifting, pushing, pulling, crouching, walking, using stairs, bending at the waist, awkward and/or sustained postures, tolerance for sitting or standing, hot and cold environments, data entry and other repetitive motion tasks, sustained grip, tool usage and vibration factors. Even if there is residual chronic pain, return-to-work is not necessarily contraindicated. The practitioner should understand all of the physical demands of the patient's job position before returning the patient to full duty and should receive clarification of the patient's job duties.
2.9 GUIDELINE RECOMMENDATIONS AND INCLUSION OF MEDICAL EVIDENCE. Recommendations are based on available evidence and/or consensus recommendations of the standard of care within Delaware. Those procedures considered inappropriate, unreasonable, or unnecessary are designated in the guideline as being "not recommended."
2.10 DELAYED RECOVERY. The Department recognizes that not all industrially injured patients will recover within the time lines outlined in this document despite optimal care. Such individuals may require treatments beyond the limits discussed within this document, but such treatment will require clear documentation by the authorized treating practitioner focusing on objective functional gains afforded by further treatment and impact upon prognosis.
2.11 CARE BEYOND MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT (MMI, some patients may require treatment after MMI has been declared in order to maintain their functional state. The recommendations in this guideline are for pre-MMI care and are not intended to limit post-MMI treatment. The remainder of this document should be interpreted within the parameters of these guideline principles that may lead to more optimal medical and functional outcomes for injured workers.
3.1 HISTORY-TAKING AND PHYSICAL EXAMINATION (Hx & PE) are generally accepted, well established and widely used procedures that establish the foundation/basis for and dictates subsequent stages of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. When findings of clinical evaluations and those of other diagnostic procedures are not complementing each other, the objective clinical findings should have preference. The medical records should reasonably document the following.
3.1.1 History of Present Injury A detailed history, taken in temporal proximity to the time of injury should primarily guide evaluation and treatment.
3.1.2 Physical Examination: may include accepted tests and exam techniques applicable to the area being examined:
3.1.3 Spinal Cord Evaluation: In cases where the mechanism of injury, history, or clinical presentation suggests a possible severe injury, additional evaluation is indicated. A full neurological examination for possible spinal cord injury may include:
3.1.4 Soft Tissue Injury Evaluation: Soft tissue injuries are traumatic injuries to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and/or connective tissue. The most common mechanism is sudden hyperextension and/or hyperflexion of the neck. Acceleration/deceleration on the lateral plane may also result in one of these syndromes. A true isolated cervical strain is not associated with focal neurological symptoms. The signs and pathophysiology of these injuries are not well understood. Soft tissue injuries may include cervical strain, myofascial syndromes, somatic dysfunction, and fractures.
3.2 RADIOGRAPHIC IMAGING of the Cervical spine is a generally accepted, well-established and widely used diagnostic procedure when specific indications based on history and/or physical examination are present The mechanism of injury and specific indications for the radiograph should be listed on the request form to aid the radiologist and x-ray technician. Suggested indications may include:
3.3 LABORATORY TESTING Laboratory tests are generally accepted, well-established and widely used procedures. They are, however, rarely indicated at the time of initial evaluation, unless there is suspicion of systemic illness, infection, neoplasia, or underlying rheumatologic disorder, connective tissue disorder, or based on history and/or physical examination. Laboratory tests can provide useful diagnostic information. Tests include, but are not limited to:
4.1 IMAGING STUDIES are generally accepted, well-established and widely used diagnostic procedures. When indicated, imaging studies can be utilized for further evaluation of the Cervical spine, based upon the mechanism of injury, symptoms, and patient history. Prudent choice of a single diagnostic study, a complementary combination of studies, or a proper sequential order of complementary studies will help ensure maximum diagnostic accuracy and minimize adverse effect to the patient. When the findings of the diagnostic imaging and testing procedures are not consistent with the clinical examination, the clinical findings should have preference.
4.1.1 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): is the imaging study of choice for most abnormalities of the cervical spine. MRI is useful in suspected nerve root compression, in myelopathy to evaluate the spinal cord and/or masses, infections such as epidural abscesses or disc space infection, bone marrow involvement by metastatic disease, and/or suspected disc herniation or cord contusion following severe neck injury. MRI should be performed immediately if there is a question of infection or metastatic disease with cord compression. MRI is contraindicated in patients with certain implanted devices. In general, the high field, conventional, MRI provides better resolution. A lower field scan may be indicated when a patient cannot fit into a high field scanner or is too claustrophobic despite sedation. Inadequate resolution on the first scan may require a second MRI using a different technique. All questions in this regard should be discussed with the MRI center and/or radiologist.
4.1.2 Computed Axial Tomography (CT) provides excellent visualization of bone and is used to further evaluate bony masses and suspected fractures and joints not clearly identified on radiographic evaluation. It may sometimes be done as a complement to MRI scanning to better delineate bony osteophyte formation in the neural foramen. Instrument-scatter reduction software provides better resolution when metallic artifact is of concern.
4.1.3 Myelography is the injection of radiopaque material into the spinal subarachnoid space, with x-rays then taken to define anatomy. It may be used as a pre-surgical diagnostic procedure to obtain accurate information of characteristics, location, and spatial relationships among soft tissue and bony structures. The use of small needles and a less toxic, water-soluble, nonionic contrast is recommended.
4.1.4 CT Myelogram provides more detailed information about relationships between neural elements and surrounding anatomy.
4.1.5 Bone Scan (Radioisotope Bone Scanning) is generally accepted, well established, and widely used. Bone scanning is more sensitive but less specific than MRI. 99mTechnetium diphosphonate uptake reflects osteoblastic activity and may be useful in diagnosing metastatic/primary bone tumors, stress fractures, osteomyelitis, and inflammatory lesions, but cannot distinguish between these entities.
4.1.6 Other Radioisotope Scanning: Indium and gallium scans are generally accepted, well-established, and widely used procedures usually to help diagnose lesions seen on other diagnostic imaging studies. 67Gallium citrate scans are used to localize tumor, infection, and abscesses. 111Indium-labeled leukocyte scanning is utilized for localizing infection or inflammation.
4.1.7 Dynamic [Digital] Fluoroscopy: Dynamic [Digital] Fluoroscopy of the Cervical spine measures the motion of intervertebral segments using a videofluoroscopy unit to capture images as the subject performs Cervical flexion and extension, storing the anatomic motion of the spine in a computer. Currently it is not recommended for use in the diagnosis of Cervical instability, since there is limited information on normal segmental motion for the age groups commonly presenting with Cervical pain, and diagnostic criteria for specific spinal conditions are not yet defined. No studies have yet demonstrated predictive value in terms of standard operative and non-operative therapeutic outcomes.
4.1.8 Diagnostic Spinal Ultrasound is not recommended in the Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar Spine
4.2 OTHER TESTS The following diagnostic procedures in this subsection are listed in alphabetical order, not by importance:
4.2.1 Electrodiagnostic Testing:
4.2.2 Injections - Diagnostic
4.2.3 Provocation Discography
4.2.4 Thermography is an accepted and established procedure, but has no use as a diagnostic test for Cervical pain and is not recommended.
5.1 ACUPUNCTURE is an accepted and widely used procedure for the relief of pain and inflammation, and there is some scientific evidence to support its use. The exact mode of action is only partially understood. Western medicine studies suggest that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system at the level of the brain, promotes deep relaxation, and affects the release of neurotransmitters. Acupuncture is commonly used as an alternative or in addition to traditional Western pharmaceuticals. While it is commonly used when pain medication is reduced or not tolerated, it may be used as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation and/or surgical intervention to hasten the return of functional activity. Acupuncture should be performed by MD, DO or DC with appropriate training.
5.1.1 Acupuncture: is the insertion and removal of filiform needles to stimulate acupoints (acupuncture points). Needles may be inserted, manipulated, and retained for a period of time.
5.1.2 Acupuncture with Electrical Stimulation: is the use of electrical current (micro-amperage or milli-amperage) on the needles at the acupuncture site. It is used to increase effectiveness of the needles by continuous stimulation of the acupoint. Physiological effects (depending on location and settings) can include endorphin release for pain relief, reduction of inflammation, increased blood circulation, analgesia through interruption of pain stimulus, and muscle relaxation.
5.1.3 Total Time Frames For Acupuncture and Acupuncture with Electrical Stimulation: Time frames are not meant to be applied to each of the above sections separately. The time frames are to be applied to all acupuncture treatments regardless of the type or combination of therapies being provided.
5.1.4 Other Acupuncture Modalities: Acupuncture treatment is based on individual patient needs and therefore treatment may include a combination of procedures to enhance treatment effect. Other procedures may include the use of heat, soft tissue manipulation/massage, and exercise. Refer to Active Therapy (Therapeutic Exercise) and Passive Therapy sections (Massage and Superficial Heat and Cold Therapy) for a description of these adjunctive acupuncture modalities and time frames.
5.2 BIOFEEDBACK is a form of behavioral medicine that helps patients learn self awareness and self-regulation skills for the purpose of gaining greater control of their physiology, such as muscle activity, brain waves, and measures of autonomic nervous system activity. Electronic instrumentation is used to monitor the targeted physiology and then displayed or fed neck to the patient visually, auditorially, or tactilely, with coaching by a biofeedback specialist. Biofeedback is provided by clinicians certified in biofeedback and/or who have documented specialized education, advanced training, or direct or supervised experience qualifying them to provide the specialized treatment needed (e.g., surface EMG, EEG, or other).
5.3.2 Radio Frequency Medial Branch Neurotomy/facet rhizotomy:
5.3.3 Trigger Point Injections and Dry Needling Treatment:
5.3.4 Prolotherapy: also known as sclerotherapy consists of a series of injections of hypertonic dextrose, with or without glycerine and phenol, into the ligamentous structures of the Cervical Spine. Its proponents claim that the inflammatory response to the injections will recruit cytokine growth factors involved in the proliferation of connective tissue, stabilizing the ligaments of the Cervical when these structures have been damaged by mechanical insults.
5.3.5 Epiduroscopy and Epidural Lysis of Adhesions: is an investigational treatment of Cervical pain. It involves the introduction of a fiberoptic endoscope into the epidural space via the sacral hiatus. With cephalad advancement of the endoscope under direct visualization, the epidural space is irrigated with saline. Adhesiolysis may be done mechanically with a fiberoptic endoscope. The saline irrigation is performed with or without epiduroscopy and is intended to distend the epidural space in order to obtain an adequate visual field. It is designed to produce lysis of adhesions, which are conjectured to produce symptoms due to traction on painful nerve roots. Saline irrigation is associated with risks of elevated pressures which may impede blood flow and venous return, possibly causing ischemia of the cauda equina and retinal hemorrhage.
5.4 MEDICATIONS use in the treatment of Cervical injuries is appropriate for controlling acute and chronic pain and inflammation. Use of medications will vary widely due to the spectrum of injuries from simple strains to post-surgical healing. All drugs should be used according to patient needs. A thorough medication history, including use of alternative and over the counter medications, should be performed at the time of the initial visit and updated periodically. The patient should be educated regarding the interaction with prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as the contents of over-the-counter herbal products.
5.4.1 Acetaminophen: is an effective analgesic with antipyretic but not anti-inflammatory activity. Acetaminophen is generally well tolerated, causes little or no gastrointestinal irritation, and is not associated with ulcer formation. Acetaminophen has been associated with liver toxicity in overdose situations or in chronic alcohol use. Patients may not realize that many over-the-counter preparations may contain acetaminophen. The total daily dose of acetaminophen is recommended not to exceed 4 grams per 24-hour period, from all sources, including narcoticacetaminophen combination preparations.
5.4.3 Narcotics: should be primarily reserved for the treatment of severe Cervical pain. In mild to moderate cases of Cervical pain, narcotic medication should be used cautiously on a case-by-case basis. Adverse effects include respiratory depression, the development of physical and impaired alertness.
5.4.4 Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): are useful for pain and inflammation. In mild cases, they may be the only drugs required for analgesia. There are several classes of NSAIDs, and the response of the individual injured worker to a specific medication is unpredictable. For this reason, a range of NSAIDs may be tried in each case with the most effective preparation being continued. Patients should be closely monitored for adverse reactions. Administration of proton pump inhibitors, Histamine 2 Blockers or prostaglandin analog misoprostol along with these NSAIDs may reduce the risk of duodenal and gastric ulceration. Intervals for metabolic screening are dependent upon the patient's age, general health status and should be within parameters listed for each specific medication.
5.4.5 Psychotropic/Anti-anxiety/Hypnotic Agents: may be useful for treatment of mild and chronic pain, dysesthesias, sleep disorders, and depression. Antidepressant medications, such as tricyclics and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are useful for affective disorder and chronic pain management. Tricyclic antidepressant agents, in low dose, are useful for chronic pain. Anti-anxiety medications should generally be limited to short-term use. Combinations of the above agents may be useful. As a general rule, physicians should access the patient's prior history of substance abuse or depression prior to prescribing any of these agents. Due to the habit-forming potential of the benzodiazepines and other drugs found in this class, they are not routinely recommended.
5.4.6 Tramadol: is useful in relief of Cervical pain and has been shown to provide pain relief equivalent to that of commonly prescribed NSAIDs. Although Tramadol may cause impaired alertness, it is generally well tolerated, does not cause gastrointestinal ulceration, or exacerbate hypertension or congestive heart failure.
5.5.1 Non-Interdisciplinary: These generally accepted programs are work-related, outcome focused, individualized treatment programs. Objectives of the program include, but are not limited to, improvement of cardiopulmonary and neuromusculoskeletal functions (strength, endurance, movement, flexibility, stability, and motor control functions), patient education, and symptom relief. The goal is for patients to gain full or optimal function and return to work. The service may include the time-limited use of passive modalities with progression to active treatment and/or simulated/ real work. Work Conditioning/Simulation: This program may begin once a patient is out of the acute phase of injury and will be able to tolerate this program. These programs are usually initiated after the acute phase has been completed and offered at any time throughout the recovery phase. Work conditioning should be initiated when imminent return of a patient to modified or full duty is not an option, but the prognosis for returning the patient to work at completion of the program is at least fair to good. The need for work place simulation should be based upon the results of a Functional Capacity Evaluation and/or Jobsite Analysis. Work Hardening: Work Hardening is an interdisciplinary program addressing a patient's employability and return to work. It includes a progressive increase in the number of hours per day that a patient completes work simulation tasks until the patient can tolerate a full workday. This is accomplished by addressing the medical, behavioral, physical, functional, and vocational components of employability and return-to-work. This can include a highly structured program involving a team approach or can involve any of the components thereof. The interdisciplinary team should, at a minimum, be comprised of a qualified medical director who is board certified with documented training in occupational rehabilitation; team physicians having experience in occupational rehabilitation; occupational therapist; physical therapist; case manager; and psychologist. As appropriate, the team may also include: Chiropractor, RN, Vocational Specialist or Certified Biofeedback Therapist. Spinal Cord Programs: Spinal Cord Systems of Care provide coordinated, casemanaged, and integrated service for people with spinal cord dysfunction, whether due to trauma or disease. The system includes an inpatient component in an organization licensed as a hospital and an outpatient component. Each component endorses the active participation and choice of the persons served throughout the entire program.
5.6 Cervical ORTHOTICS Primary principles and objectives of the application of cervical orthosis include:
5.6.1 Cervical Supports: Soft Collars are well-tolerated by most patients cervical supports may provide symptomatic relief of pain and movement reduction in cases of acute cervical conditions. The injured worker should be advised of the potential harm from using a cervical support for a period of time greater than that which is prescribed. Harmful effects include de-conditioning of the musculature, skin irritation, and general discomfort. Rigid Collars, such as a Philadelphia or Miami Orthosis, are useful post-operative or in emergency situations. These collars restrict flexion and extension motion, and to a lesser degree, lateral bending and rotation. Duration of wear is dependent upon the physician and degree of cervical healing but is generally not used beyond 8 weeks. Cervicothoracic Orthosis: such as Yale and sternal occipital mandibular immobilization (SOMI) type braces, restrict flexion and extension motion to a fuller degree than the Philadelphia collar and to a better degree lateral bending and rotation. Not recommended in sprain or strain type injuries. Halo Devices: are used in the treatment of cervical fracture, dislocation, and instability at the discretion of the treating surgeon. Refer to Halo Devices in the Operative Treatment section. Other Orthosis Devices and Equipment: Special orthosis or equipment may have a role in the rehabilitation of a cervical injury such as those injuries to a cervical nerve root resulting in upper extremity weakness or a spinal cord injury with some degree of paraparesis or tetraparesis. Use of such devices would be in a structured rehabilitation setting as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
5.7 PATIENT EDUCATION No treatment plan is complete without addressing issues of individual and/or group patient education as a means of prolonging the beneficial effects of treatment, as well as facilitating self-management of symptoms and injury prevention. The patient should be encouraged to take an active role in the establishment of functional outcome goals. They should be educated on their specific injury, assessment findings, and plan of treatment. Instruction on proper body mechanics and posture, positions to avoid, self-care for exacerbation of symptoms, and home exercise should also be addressed.
5.8 RESTRICTION OF ACTIVITIES There is some evidence to support the continuation of normal daily activities as the recommended treatment for acute and chronic cervical injuries without neurologic symptoms. Complete work cessation should be avoided, if possible, since it often further aggravates the pain presentation. Modified return-to-work is almost always more efficacious and rarely contraindicated in the vast majority of injured workers with cervical spine injuries.
5.9 RETURN-TO-WORK Early return-to-work should be a prime goal in treating occupational injuries given the poor return-to-work prognosis for an injured worker who has been out of work for more than six months. It is imperative that the patient be educated regarding the benefits of return-to-work, work restrictions, and follow-up if problems arise. When attempting to return a patient to work after a specific injury, clear objective physical capabilities of the injured worker should be outlined on the appropriate form. An accurate job description with detailed physical duty requirements is often necessary to assist the physician in making return-to-work recommendations.
5.9.1 Compliance with Activity Restrictions: In some cases, compliance with restriction of activity levels may require a complete job site evaluation, a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) or other special testing.
5.10 THERAPY - PASSIVE Most of the following passive therapies and modalities are generally accepted methods of care for a variety of work-related injuries. Passive therapy includes those treatment modalities that do not require energy expenditure on the part of the patient. They are principally effective during the early phases of treatment and are directed at controlling symptoms such as pain, inflammation and swelling and to improve the rate of healing soft tissue injuries. They should be used adjunctively with active therapies such as postural stabilization and exercise programs to help control swelling, pain, and inflammation during the active rehabilitation process.
Please refer to Section B. 4. General Guideline Principles, Active Interventions. Passive therapies may be used intermittently as a therapist deems appropriate or regularly if there are specific goals with objectively measured functional improvements during treatment.
5.10.1 Electrical Stimulation (Unattended and Attended): is an accepted treatment. Once applied, unattended electrical stimulation requires minimal on-site supervision by the provider. Indications include pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, atrophy, decreased circulation, and the need for osteogenic stimulation. A home unit should be purchased if treatment is effective and frequent use is recommended.
5.10.2 Iontophoresis: is an accepted treatment which consists of the transfer of medication, including, but not limited to, steroidal anti-inflammatories and anesthetics, through the use of electrical stimulation. Indications include pain (Lidocaine), inflammation (hydrocortisone, salicylate), edema (mecholyl, hyaluronidase, salicylate), ischemia (magnesium, mecholyl, iodine), muscle spasm (magnesium, calcium), calcific deposits (acetate), scars, and keloids (sodium chloride, iodine, acetate).
5.10.3 Manipulation: Is generally accepted, well-established and widely used therapeutic intervention for Cervical pain. Manipulative Treatment (not therapy) is defined as the therapeutic application of manually guided forces by an operator to improve physiologic function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by the injury or occupational disease, and has associated clinical significance. Mobilization (Joint) / Manipulation: Mobilization is passive movement involving oscillatory motions to the involved joints. The passive mobility is performed in a graded manner (I, II, III, IV, or V), which depicts the speed of the maneuver. It may include skilled manual joint tissue stretching. Indications include the need to improve joint play, improve intracapsular arthrokinematics, or reduce pain associated with tissue impingement.
Maximum duration: 48 36 visits (CPT codes 97124 and 97140 cannot exceed 48 36 visits in combination).
5.10.4 Massage - Manual or Mechanical: Massage is manipulation of soft tissue with broad ranging relaxation and circulatory benefits. This may include techniques that include pressing, lifting, rubbing, pinching of soft tissues by, or with, the practitioner's hands. Indications include edema (peripheral or hard and non-pliable edema), muscle spasm, adhesions, the need to improve peripheral circulation and range of motion, or to increase muscle relaxation and flexibility prior to exercise.
5.10.5 Mobilization (Joint): is a generally well-accepted treatment. Mobilization is passive movement involving oscillatory motions to the vertebral segment(s). The passive mobility is performed in a graded manner (I, II, III, IV, or V), which depicts the speed and depth of joint motion during the maneuver. For further discussion on Level V joint mobilization please see section on HVLA manipulation [Refer to section 12. d.]. It may include skilled manual joint tissue stretching.
Maximum duration: 48 36 visits. Extended durations of care beyond what is considered "maximum" may be necessary in cases of re-injury, interrupted continuity of care, exacerbation of symptoms, and in those patients with comorbitities. Refer to the Chronic Pain Guidelines for care beyond 6 months.
RE-EVALUATE TREATMENT EVERY 3 TO 4 WEEKS If a given treatment or modality is not producing positive results within 3 to 4 weeks, the treatment may be either modified or discontinued. Reconsideration of diagnosis should also occur in the event of poor response to a seemingly rational intervention.
CPT codes 97124 and 97140 cannot exceed 48 36 visits in combination
Maximum duration: 48 36 visits re-evaluate treatment every 3 to 4 weeks if a given treatment or modality is not producing positive results within 3 to 4 weeks, the treatment may be either modified or discontinued. Reconsideration of diagnosis should also occur in the event of poor response to a seemingly rational intervention.
CPT codes 97124 and 97140 cannot exceed 48 36 visits in combination.
5.10.7 Short-Wave Diathermy: is an accepted treatment which involves the use of equipment that exposes soft tissue to a magnetic or electrical field. Indications include enhanced collagen extensibility before stretching, reduced muscle guarding, reduced inflammatory response, and enhanced re-absorption of hemorrhage/hematoma or edema. It is an accepted modality as an adjunct to acupuncture or situation where other forms of contact superficial heat are contraindicated.
5.10.8 Superficial Heat and Cold Therapy (excluding Infrared Therapy): is a generally accepted treatment. Superficial heat and cold are thermal agents applied in various manners that lower or raise the body tissue temperature for the reduction of pain, inflammation, and/or effusion resulting from injury or induced by exercise. Includes application of heat just above the surface of the skin at acupuncture points. Indications include acute pain, edema and hemorrhage, need to increase pain threshold, reduce muscle spasm, and promote stretching/flexibility. Cold and heat packs can be used at home as an extension of therapy in the clinic setting.
Maximum duration: 24 12 visits with maximum visits 1 per day.
5.10.9 Traction-Manual: is an accepted treatment and an integral part of manual manipulation or joint mobilization. Indications include decreased joint space, muscle spasm around joints, and the need for increased synovial nutrition and response. Manual traction is contraindicated in patients with tumor, infection, fracture, or fracture dislocation.
5.10.10 Traction-Mechanical: Traction modalities are contraindicated in patients with tumor, infections, fracture, or fracture dislocation. Non-oscillating inversion traction methods are contraindicated in patients with glaucoma or hypertension. Motorized traction/decompression devices are included and billed as mechanical traction (i.e. VAX-D, DRX9000, etc.). A home Cervical traction unit can be purchased if proves effective and the home unit can provide a similar treatment.
5.10.11 Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): is a generally accepted treatment. TENS should include at least one instructional session for proper application and use. Indications include muscle spasm, atrophy, and decreased circulation and pain control. Minimal TENS unit parameters should include pulse rate, pulse width and amplitude modulation. Consistent, measurable functional improvement should be documented prior to the purchase of a home unit.
5.11 THERAPY-ACTIVE The following active therapies are widely used and accepted methods of care for a variety of work-related injuries. They are based on the philosophy that therapeutic exercise and/or activity are beneficial for restoring flexibility, strength, endurance, function, range of motion, and can alleviate discomfort. Active therapy requires an internal effort by the individual to complete a specific exercise or task. This form of therapy requires supervision from a therapist or medical provider such as verbal, visual, and/or tactile instruction(s). At times, the provider may help stabilize the patient or guide the movement pattern but the energy required to complete the task is predominately executed by the patient.
5.11.1 Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are well-established interventions which involve instruction, active-assisted training, and/or adaptation of activities or equipment to improve a person's capacity in normal daily activities such as self-care, work re-integration training, homemaking, and driving.
5.11.2 Aquatic Therapy: is a well-accepted treatment which consists of the therapeutic use of aquatic immersion for therapeutic exercise to promote strengthening, core stabilization, endurance, range of motion, flexibility, body mechanics, and pain management. Aquatic therapy includes the implementation of active therapeutic procedures in a swimming or therapeutic pool. The water provides a buoyancy force that lessens the amount of force gravity applies to the body. The decreased gravity effect allows the patient to have a mechanical advantage and more likely have a successful trial of therapeutic exercise. The therapy may be indicated for individuals who:
5.11.3 Functional Activities: are well-established interventions which involve the use of therapeutic activity to enhance mobility, body mechanics, employability, coordination, balance, and sensory motor integration.
5.11.4 Functional Electrical Stimulation: is an accepted treatment in which the application of electrical current to elicit involuntary or assisted contractions of atrophied and/or impaired muscles. It may be indicated for impaired muscle function due to radiculopathy.
5.11.5 Neuromuscular Re-education: is a generally accepted treatment. It is the skilled application of exercise with manual, mechanical, or electrical facilitation to enhance strength; movement patterns; neuromuscular response; proprioception, kinesthetic sense and coordination; education of movement, balance, and posture. Indications include the need to promote neuromuscular responses through carefully timed proprioceptive stimuli, to elicit and improve motor activity in patterns similar to normal neurologically developed sequences, and improve Neuromotor response with independent control.
5.11.6 Therapeutic Exercise: is a generally well-accepted treatment. Therapeutic exercise, with or without mechanical assistance or resistance, may include isoinertial, isotonic, isometric and isokinetic types of exercises. Indications include the need for cardiovascular fitness, reduced edema, improved muscle strength, improved connective tissue strength and integrity, increased bone density, promotion of circulation to enhance soft tissue healing, improvement of muscle recruitment, improved proprioception, and coordination, and increased range of motion. Therapeutic exercises are used to promote normal movement patterns, and can also include complementary/ alternative exercise movement therapy (with oversight of a physician or appropriate healthcare professional).
5.11.7 Spinal Stabilization: is a generally well-accepted treatment. The goal of this therapeutic program is to strengthen the spine in its neural and anatomic position. The stabilization is dynamic which allows whole body movements while maintaining a stabilized spine. It is the ability to move and function normally through postures and activities without creating undue vertebral stress
5.12 VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION is a generally accepted intervention. Initiation of vocational rehabilitation requires adequate evaluation of patients for quantification of highest functional level, motivation, and achievement of maximum medical improvement. Vocational rehabilitation may be as simple as returning to the original job or as complicated as being retrained for a new occupation. It may also be beneficial for full vocational rehabilitation to be started, before MMI if it is evident that the injured worker will be unable to return to his/her previous occupation. A positive goal and direction may aid the patient in decreasing stress and depression, and promote optimum rehabilitation.
6.1 General Recommendations -If cervical fusion is being considered, it is recommended that the injured worker be encouraged to quit or decrease smoking for at least two weeks prior to surgery and during the time of healing. Because smokers have a higher risk of non-union and higher post-operative costs, it is recommended that insurers cover a smoking cessation program peri-operatively.
6.2 General Indications for Surgery - Operative intervention should be considered and a consultation obtained when improvement of symptoms has plateaued and the residual symptoms of pain and functional disability are unacceptable at the end of six weeks of treatment, or at the end of longer duration of non-operative intervention for debilitated patients with complex problems. Choice of hardware instrumentation is based on anatomy, the patient's pathology, and surgeon's experience and preference.
6.3 Specific Indications include:
6.3.1 For Patients with Myelopathy: immediate surgical evaluation and treatment is indicated.
6.3.2 For Patients with Cervical Radiculopathy:
6.3.3 For Patients with Persistent Non-radicular Cervical Pain: in the absence of a radiculopathy, it is recommended that a decisive commitment to surgical or nonsurgical interventions be made by 4 months following injury. The effectiveness of three-level cervical fusion for non-radicular pain has not been established. In patients with non-radicular cervical pain for whom fusion is being considered, required pre-operative indications include all of the following:
6.4 Surgical Procedures include:
6.4.1 Cervical Discectomy with or without Fusion: Description - Procedure to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots or spinal cord. It may be performed with or without the use of a microscope. Surgical Indications - Radiculopathy from ruptured disc or spondylosis, spinal instability, or patients with non-radicular neck pain meeting fusion criteria. Discectomy alone from a posterior approach may be considered in patients with pure radicular symptoms from their herniated disc and who have sufficiently large foramen that disc space collapse is unlikely to further compromise the nerve root. Failure rates increase with disease at more than two levels. Operative Treatment - Cervical plating may be used to prevent graft dislodgment and facilitate fusion. It has the added advantage of eliminating the need for postoperative bracing and allowing faster functional recovery. Post-Operative Therapy - Cervical bracing may be used. Home programs with instruction in ADLs, sitting, posture, and a daily walking program should be an early part of the rehabilitation process. Referral to a formal rehabilitation program, with emphasis on cervical, scapular, and thoracic strengthening and restoration of ROM is appropriate and encouraged to expedite a return to higher function. Active treatment, which patients should have had prior to surgery, will frequently require a repeat of the sessions previously ordered. The goals of the therapy program should include instruction in a long-term home-based exercise program. Intervertebral Biomechanical Device(s) and Use of Code 22851
6.4.2 Cervical Corpectomy Description - Removal of a portion or the entire vertebral body from the front of the spine. May also include removal of the adjacent discs. Usually involves fusion. Surgical Indications - Single or two-level spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or severe kyphosis, with cord compression. Operative Treatment - Neural decompression, fusion with instrumentation, or halo vest placement to maintain cervical position. Hemicorpectomy may be done when only a portion of the vertebral body needs to be resected. Allografts may be used for single bone graft fusion; however, autografts are generally preferable for multi-level fusions unless a large strut graft is required. Post-Operative Therapy - Dependent upon number of vertebral bodies involved, healing time may be longer than discectomy. Halo vest care is required. Home programs with instruction in ADLs, sitting, posture, and a daily walking program should be an early part of the rehabilitation process. Referral to a formal rehabilitation program with emphasis on cervical, scapular, and thoracic strengthening is appropriate for most patients once the cervical spine is deemed stable and without complication. The goals of the therapy program should include instruction in a long-term home-based exercise program.
6.4.3 Cervical Laminectomy with or without Foraminotomy or Fusion Description - Surgical removal of the posterior portion of a vertebrae in order to gain access to the spinal cord or nerve roots. Surgical Indications - Neural compression. Operative Treatment - Laminotomy, partial discectomy, and nerve root decompression. Post-Operative Therapy - Cervical bracing may be appropriate (usually 6 to 12 weeks with fusion). Home programs with instruction in ADLs, sitting, posture, and a daily walking program should be an early part of the rehabilitation process. Referral to a formal rehabilitation program with emphasis on cervical, scapular, and thoracic strengthening and restoration of ROM is appropriate for most patients once the cervical spine is deemed stable and without complication. The goals of the therapy program should include instruction in a long-term home-based exercise program
6.4.4 Cervical Laminoplasty Description - Technique that increases anterior or posterior dimensions of the spinal canal while leaving posterior elements partially intact. It may be performed with or without the use of a microscope. Operative Treatment - Posterior approach, with or without instrumentation. Post-Operative Therapy - May include 4 to 12 weeks of cervical bracing. Home programs with instruction in ADLs, sitting, posture, and daily walking program should be an early part of the rehabilitation process. Referral to a formal rehabilitation program with emphasis on cervical, scapular, and thoracic strengthening and restoration of ROM is appropriate once the cervical spine is stable and without complication. Active treatment which patients should have had prior to surgery will frequently require a repeat of the sessions previously ordered. The goals of the therapy program should include instruction in a long-term, home-based exercise program.
6.4.5 Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement Description - involves the insertion of a prosthetic device into an intervertebral space from which a degenerated disc has been removed, sparing only the peripheral annulus. The endplates are positioned under intraoperative fluoroscopic guidance for optimal placement in the sagittal and frontal planes. The prosthetic device is designed to distribute the mechanical load of the vertebrae in a physiologic manner and maintain range of motion. General Selection Criteria - for cervical disc replacement includes symptomatic degenerative disc disease. The patient must also meet fusion surgery criteria, and if the patient is not a candidate for fusion, a disc replacement procedure should not be considered. Additionally, the patient should be able to comply with pre-and post-surgery protocol. The Theoretical Advantage - of total disc arthroplasty is that it preserves range of motion and physiologic loading of the disc. This could be an advantage for adults who are physically active. Studies do not demonstrate a long-term advantage of measured function or pain over comparison groups undergoing fusion. The longevity of this prosthetic device has not yet been determined. Significant technical training and experience is required to perform this procedure successfully. Surgeons must be well-versed in anterior spinal techniques and should have attended appropriate training courses, or have undergone training during a fellowship. Mentoring and proctoring of procedures is highly recommended.
6.5 External Spinal Stimulators Post Fusion
Last Updated: December 31 1969 19:00:00.
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