Length of Disability and Cost of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremity

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Abstract

There is little information on the length of disability (LOD) reported for work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity (WMS-DUE). For this study, LOD, cost, and the relationship between LOD and cost were derived from a large workers' compensation company's claims data for 1994 WMSDUE (n = 21, 338). The average LOD was 87 days, with a median of zero days. For those claims with at least one day of compensable disability (25.2%), the average and median LOD were 294 and 99 days, respectively. The distribution of cost was skewed, with the average cost of a claim being 13 times higher than its median. Approximately 60% of the claims cost $1000 or less. Additionally, the 6.8% of the claims with an LOD greater than one year accounted for 59.9% of the cost and 75% of the total disability days. The majority of WMSDUE claimants did not lose sufficient time to qualify for indemnity. For those who did receive lost time wages, a disability duration of more than three months was typical.

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