Workers' Comp

Finally: An Effective Therapeutic and Evaluative Approach to Manage Workers' Comp, Intrusive Tinnitus, Sound Sensitivity and Auditory Problems

What the Tinnitus and Audiology Center of Southern California, Inc. Provides

We dedicate a significant portion of our practice to workers' compensation management of tinnitus and hearing loss. OUR OFFICES DO ACCEPT LIENS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS. In addition, we work with QMEs and AMEs, and provide medical-legal based detailed-timely reports that meet their specialized needs, as well as the needs of attorneys. All of our four offices service patients referred by attorneys and third-party administrators.

Typically, hearing professionals just note the presence or absence of tinnitus without any elaboration. We, however, measure tinnitus psychoacoustics, analyze and evaluate the clinical significance and severity of these disorders on standardized scales (including visual analog scaling), test responsiveness and prognosis to specific treatments, and provide evidence of relationships to other affected body systems. This helps reveal and substantiate by documentation relationships to the injury. Of value to you is our ability to more readily identify evidence of malingering or exaggeration. In addition, as a specialist in tinnitus audiology personally trained by leaders in the tinnitus field, I am qualified to deliver more than 50 diagnostic and specialized rehabilitation testing procedures. We provide all eight forms of tinnitus sound therapies and the five therapies for sound sensitivity currently in use. In addition, as we are also accustomed to evaluating and treating severe and complex cases, we use evidenced methods to grade the severity of symptoms.

In nearly 50 percent of tinnitus cases, a doctor's audiogram will detect little hearing loss despite significant tinnitus. These audiograms also fail to measure hearing loss in the ultra-high frequency range at all, and do not provide evidence to substantiate tinnitus and determine its impact. However, as a trained tinnitus audiology specialist, I use more comprehensive auditory testing and measures to reveal and quantify auditory dysfunction that may not appear on a standard audiogram (Be aware that tinnitus, sound sensitivity and hearing problems in the case of head trauma, are not only a symptom of damage to the auditory system, but also a sign of potential central damage to the brain).

You should also be aware that 40 percent of tinnitus victims do not have sufficient hearing loss to use hearing aids as a treatment method, yet the tinnitus can still be severe and debilitating, thus justifying alternate Sound Therapy treatments. My training allows us to successfully evaluate and treat this population. Consider whether the client's tinnitus and sound sensitivity problems should or could be treated to provide relief and/or compensated, if they are related to the work injury (both initial and long-term treatment and costs).

Testing for Workers' Compensation Cases

Our testing methods provide identification of clinical characteristics and quantifiable measurements of the clients' tinnitus, sound sensitivity, hearing and brain auditory processing, severity of intrusiveness and significance, and an analysis of their impact and relationship to other auditory, head, and neck injury symptoms. We can actually test and evaluate appropriate sound therapy treatments and devices, make recommendations, and provide justification for case-specific treatment and multidisciplinary case management. Furthermore, we can furnish you cost estimates for initial treatments and project ongoing expenses across the actuarial lifetime of treatment. In most cases, particularly with severe intrusiveness, tinnitus cannot be managed by hearing aids. However, in over 80% of cases, sufferers can achieve relief through other specific types of devices, treatment, or a combination of both.

Some rehabilitation evaluation procedures are not listed or coded on the official workers' compensation fee schedule. We can assist in referencing the most relevant coding, and usual and customary fees.

Sound Therapy Treatment for Workers' Compensation Clients

The rehabilitation methods we use have been clinically validated to reduce the industrially-injured victim's disturbance, distress and attention to tinnitus and sound sensitivity symptoms in over 80% of cases, where our treatment is correctly followed. Sound therapy treatments for tinnitus are no longer experimental. They are now routinely used by the Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, medical centers, and leading institutions in the private sector. These include Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Northern California and others.

Those treated benefit from reducing perception and disturbance about tinnitus, lessening anxiety about tinnitus, diminishing the need for medications to cope with symptoms, improving the ability to relax, concentrate and sleep, and providing patients increased control over their tinnitus. Our treatments lead to a faster return to work and better restoration of function. Often, treatments help to such an extent that clients may forget they have a problem with tinnitus.

Additional Benefits

We have the ability to:

  • Test and certify whether hearing aids or tinnitus masking devices would be useful as part of an effective treatment for either hearing loss or tinnitus. We also determine whether the client should use devices or treatment other than hearing aids to rehab significant tinnitus or sound sensitivity. Furthermore, we assess the initial and long-term need for the use of devices.
  • Determine the need for multi-disciplinary evaluation or treatment for tinnitus or comorbidities to tinnitus based on medical evidence and prevailing gold standards of treatment (i.e., cognitive therapy, sleep medicine, psychotherapy, biofeedback, etc.).
  • Provide any professional working on the case with information on how any specific sound therapy treatment works, as well as the initial and ongoing projected cost of treatment, and what the appropriate expectations should be from delivering any form of care.
  • Determine if clients treated by others were provided hearing aids that were insufficient or incorrect, or are exacerbating to their tinnitus or sound sensitivity problem, or are of no benefit. We document in what ways clients are dissatisfied or what problems they have, and establish why hearing aids usage has been unsuccessful for hearing loss or tinnitus management.
  • Provide comprehensive, evidence-based Tinnitus Rehabilitation Evaluations (as opposed to audiological diagnostic evaluations) to determine the most appropriate Sound Therapy for tinnitus, sound sensitivity and hearing loss, and relevant comorbid conditions.
  • Estimate the short and long term costs of Sound Therapy treatment. (For example: we might show an estimated initial $6,000 expense for tinnitus devices and treatment replaced every 3.5 years for the accrued actuarial lifespan of the client (or state it as $52,000 over 25 years adjusted for inflation). In some cases, projected costs can be considerably higher).
  • Offer second or third opinions that can address your remaining issues or concerns. Evaluation services alone are available.
  • Help determine, based on clinical research, the timeline when the effectiveness of the initial medical treatment has run its course, and when the client should then be transitioned into Sound Therapy Rehabilitation and management.
Understanding the concerns of AMEs and QMEs have as opposed to non med-legal practitioners, which can be reflective in the evaluation of the patients, as well as the style and content of reports. Our Tinnitus Rehabilitation Evaluations and treatment are based on unbiased medical evidence with a full range of treatment options that can be considered.

Our reports are customized to address the concerns and medical evidence that workers' compensation attorney's need, which is somewhat different from the approach we use in preparing straight-forward medical reports. The details we furnish attorneys provide substance, details and justifications to aid in understanding and documenting the complexities of cases, and help to reveal where there may be room to further assist clients.

Should you wish to consider referring clients for our services and desire to discuss working with our program in detail, please contact us.