Our firm handles quite a few connective tissue injury cases. While some types of these injuries can be seen on some MRI machines, the extent to which connective tissue has been injured is usually assessed by how motion of joints is altered due to the injury. For example, the following analysis is performed for a cervical spine injury:
This is an excerpt from the American Medical Association's Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment ("AMA Guides"), which treating physicians usually follow in quantifying the extent of a connective tissue injury. The physician draws lines on x-rays and compares adjacent levels of the spine in a process known as radiographic mensuration analysis. Where the angles between adjacent levels exceed 11º, the AMA Guides state that the patient has a 25% permanent whole body impairment. Physicians have been performing these types of measurements and diagnoses for around a century, and the AMA Guides have required them since 1993.
Historically, this analysis took quite a bit of time and effort on the part of the physician. However, in the early- to mid-1990's, some physicians recognized that this process could be computerized and set to work creating software to perform the analysis. The resulting diagnostic procedure is called computerized radiographic mensuration analysis, or CRMA. The result is sometimes referred to as a "digitized x-ray," since plain film x-rays can be scanned and analyzed as well. Since the late 1990's, many scientific research articles, clinical practice guidelines, and healthcare associations have recognized that CRMA is easier, faster, more reliable, more repeatable, and more accurate than hand-derived measurements.
Just before a scheduled trial date for one of our clients in early January, a trial judge in Texarkana ruled that CRMA was "a mere technological advancement of established, reliable mensuration procedures such as the one utilized by the AMA Guides." For that reason, the trial judge rejected a defense challenge to the use of impairment evidence based upon CRMA and the AMA Guides. We at the Chaney Law Firm are proud to be defending the right of injury victims in Arkansas to use objective, repeatable technology tools to quantify their injuries.