MARY R. KAROPCHINSKY, Claimant Below, Petitioner
TELATLANTIC COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Employer Below, Respondent
Appeal No. 2052005 (Claim No. 2016002306)
Mary R. Karopchinsky, by Robert L. Stultz, her attorney,
appeals the decision of the West Virginia Workers'
Compensation Board of Review. Telatlantic Communications,
Inc., did not file a response to the petition for appeal.
appeal involves a request for the addition of secondary
conditions to the claim, as well as requests for medical
treatment to treat those secondary conditions. By an Order
dated January 29, 2016, the claims administrator denied Ms.
Karopchinsky's request for a physiatrist evaluation for
the diagnosis of cervical radiculitis. On April 20, 2016, the
claims administrator denied her request to add cervical
radiculitis as a compensable component of the claim. The
Workers Compensation Office of Judges affirmed the Orders of
the claims administrator in an Order dated May 8, 2017. This
appeal arises from the Board of Review's Final Order
dated November 17, 2017, in which the Board affirmed the May
8, 2017, Order of the Office of Judges. The Court has
carefully reviewed the records, written arguments, and
appendices contained in the briefs, and the case is mature
Court has considered the petitioner's brief and the
record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, Ms. Karopchinsky's brief, and the
record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of
law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum
decision is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of
Karopchinsky was injured on June 14, 2015, while employed by
Telatlantic Communications, Inc, as a combination technician.
She sustained an injury to her right elbow and right shoulder
when the truck she was driving veered into a ditch. The
jolting caused her right foot to slip onto the accelerator
and she struggled to maintain control of the vehicle.
Karopchinsky was treated by Karen Spotloe, PA-C, at Belington
Community Medical Services Association on July 1, 2015. Ms.
Karopchinsky presented with bilateral shoulder pain, with the
right side being greater than the left, and pain in her right
elbow. She denied any head trauma or neck symptoms. Ms.
Spotloe recorded the active problems as being lateral
epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and shoulder sprain. Examination
of the neck revealed no decrease in suppleness, no
abnormalities, and not cervical mass. The assessment was
shoulder sprain, bilateral; wrist sprain; shoulder strain,
bilateral; and lateral epicondylitis of the right elbow. Ms.
Karopchinsky was referred to a physical therapist for her
shoulder and elbow pain.
Karopchinsky treated with Becky Poling, P.T., at Broaddus
Total Therapy Center on July 23, 2015. She presented with
pain, muscle weakness, and decreased activity tolerance.
After finding that Ms. Karopchinsky was a good candidate for
rehabilitation, Ms. Poling recommended a six-week treatment
plan that would enable Ms. Karopchinsky to have decreased
bilateral upper trapezius and upper extremity pain, increased
lateral shoulder abduction strength, and the ability to
return to driving without upper extremity or neck symptoms.
The assessment was shoulder sprain, bilateral; sprain of
wrist and hand, bilateral; wrist sprain; and lateral
epicondylitis of the right elbow.
September 28, 2015, Ms. Karopchinsky was examined by Joshua
Sykes, M.D., with UHC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, after
a referral from Ms. Spotloe. Dr. Sykes noted that Ms.
Karopchinsky had been participating in physical therapy, and
that therapy was helping her symptoms. The neurologic exam
revealed intact dermatomal sensation. The musculoskeletal
examination of the right shoulder revealed positive
impingement, but the pain was not consistent with rotator
cuff disease. The assessment was cervical radiculitis and
shoulder impingement, right. Dr. Sykes recommended a
continuation of participation in physical therapy, and he
wanted to see her again in a couple of months to assess her
Karopchinsky returned to Dr. Sykes on November 11, 2015, for
a follow-up evaluation. She presented with bilateral shoulder
pain, with the right side being greater than the left side.
Dr. Sykes noted that Ms. Karopchinsky reported some
improvement with her therapy and she continues to take
Ketoprofen for pain. Dr. Sykes also noted that her clinical
picture is complicated by her history of carpal tunnel
syndrome surgery and persistent numbness. The assessment was
radiculitis of the right cervical region. Dr. Sykes believes
that most of Mr. Karopchinsky's pain is coming from her
cervical spine. He noted that she has had therapy on both her
shoulders and her cervical spine, but continues to have pain
that radiates from her neck down her arm and the region of
her thumb. Dr. Sykes ordered an MRI and stated that
conservative treatment has failed. Dr. Sykes planned to refer
her to Russell Biundo, M.D., a physiatrist, and would see Ms.
Karopchinsky again as needed.
December 2, 2015, Dr. Sykes requested authorization for an
MRI of the cervical spine without contrast, as well as a
referral to physiatrist Biundo for the treatment of right
sided radicular pain. The claims administrator denied Dr.
Sykes's request in an Order dated January 29, 2016. The
claims administrator denied the requests because the accepted
injuries in the claim are right shoulder and elbow strain.
Ms. Karopchinsky protested the claims administrator's
report dated December 6, 2015, from Broaddus Hospital, showed
degenerative changes, most prominent at C6-7. Ms.
Karopchinsky's MRI of the cervical spine revealed shallow
posterior disc osteophyte without significant central canal
or foraminal stenosis at C2-3, C5-6, and C6-7. At the C6-7
level there was a posterior disc osteophyte with moderate
central canal stenosis and mild flattening of the cord. There
was also moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis at the C6-7
level combined with facet arthropathy. During the litigation
process, the employer submitted an MRI report of the cervical
spine dated October 2, 2005, which revealed tiny central disc
bulges at C6-7, C5-6, and C2-3, without significant
Karopchinsky testified at a deposition held on April 7, 2016,
that she has pain from the bottom of her neck with bad spasms
across her shoulder. She acknowledged that she had prior neck
problems and headaches, but noted that the pain was more
severe following her work injury. She also acknowledged that
she had another vehicle accident on April 7, 2016, for which
she is receiving treatment for her neck and shoulder.
Sykes submitted a Diagnosis Update request with the claims
administrator on April 12, 2016, seeking to add the diagnosis
of cervical radiculitis as a compensable component of the
claim. On April 20, 2016, the claims administrator denied Dr.
Sykes's request to add the diagnosis of cervical
radiculitis as a compensable component of the claim. The
claims administrator determined that the diagnosis is not
related to the work injury of June 14, 2015. Ms. Karopchinsky
protested the claims administrator's Order.
independent medical evaluation report was generated by P.
Kent Thrush, M.D., on January 23, 2017. Dr. Thrush addressed
Ms. Karopchinsky's carpal tunnel issues and noted that
she had normal range of motion of the neck and shoulders. In
an Addendum Report dated March 1, 2017, Dr. Thrush stated
that there was no evidence of cervical ...