NGUYEN V THE MOTOR ACCIDENTS AUTHORITY OF NSW & ZURICH AUSTRALIAN INSURANCE LTD  NSWSC 351
JUDGMENT DATE: 3 MAY 2011
In Nguyen, Hall J held at  that;
“application of common law principles would support...the conclusion that impairment in one or both of the (claimant’s) upper limbs consequent upon injury to the cervical spine would be compensable as a natural and direct consequence of spinal injury”.
Points to consider and address when assessing cervical spine injury and reduced shoulder motion.
- Assess cervical spine injury with respect to relevant differentiators
- Comment on shoulder motion, noting any restriction, location of symptoms (shoulder joint v AC joint v related to trapezius muscle/ somatic), quality of movement, tests for impingement, muscle strength and bulk as relevant (whether shoulder is listed by the parties as an injury or not)
- Record ROM both shoulders (provide degrees of motion)
Record history of symptoms, documentation of symptoms etc.
If shoulder restriction, comment on:
- Is there an impairment [cl. 1.11]
- Whether it is permanent [cl. 1.21]
- Passive v active ROM [Cl. 2.4(ii)]. Relevance of findings
- Whether the ROM can be reliably assessed having regard to tests of consistency [cl. 1.42, 1.43, 2.4(iv)] (discuss with claimant)
- How is it consequent upon injuries to the cervical spine
If satisfied there is a permanent and assessable impairment, this should be assessed and combined with any permanent impairment for the cervical spine.
If not permanent, it cannot be assessed.
If ROM inconsistent, it should not be used as a valid parameter of impairment [Cl. 4.2 (iv)]. Are other methods of assessment applicable [cl. 2.4(v)]. Consider clause 2.9. If so, explain reasoning.
Ultimately the decision depends on the clinical judgment of the Assessor, who should explain all reasoning behind the decision.
Injury Strategy Branch