The claimant was a laborer who sustained an L3-L4 work related low back injury which required a lumbar fusion. Post-surgery, the claimant suffered continued significant low back and lower leg pain. He was assigned a 25% impairment to the lumbar spine by his treating physician one year post lumbar fusion. He was released by his neurosurgeon to return for light duty after his fusion.
A Functional Capacity Test was performed which opined that the claimant did not demonstrate a work status that would meet traditional vocational opportunities. The claimant was then seen by IME physician Dr. William Druckemiller who opined that the claimant remained totally disabled postoperatively. The claimant's back surgery was recognized as a failed back surgery.
This Connecticut workers' compensation case was settled by way of a full and final stipulation. The claimant propounded a permanent total disability claim based on an Osterlund legal theory. Under an Osterlund theory, total disability benefits can be awarded where the claimant's work related injury is a substantial factor in destroying his earning capacity. The claimant, to his credit, was able to eventually fully wean himself off of all narcotic pain medications such as Oxycodone post-surgery.
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