What is a permanent impairment?

Answered by Edward Huber

A permanent impairment, as defined by the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, refers to a lasting loss, loss of use, damage, or malfunction of a specific part of the body, bodily system, or bodily function. It is an enduring condition that affects an individual’s physical well-being and may have long-term consequences.

When we talk about a permanent impairment, we are referring to a situation where the effects of an injury or illness are expected to be long-lasting or permanent. It means that the person will not fully recover or regain the same level of functioning they had before the incident or illness occurred.

The term “permanent impairment” encompasses a wide range of conditions and disabilities. It can include physical impairments such as the loss or loss of use of limbs, organs, or senses. For example, it could involve the amputation of a limb, the loss of vision or hearing, or the inability to use certain body parts due to paralysis or nerve damage.

Additionally, a permanent impairment can also refer to impairments of bodily systems or functions. This includes impairments to the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and so on. It could involve conditions such as chronic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic pain disorders, or neurological disorders.

The key aspect of a permanent impairment is that it is expected to persist over time and significantly impact an individual’s ability to carry out daily activities, work, or participate in social and recreational activities. It is not a temporary or transient condition but rather a lasting alteration to one’s physical functioning.

To determine the extent of a permanent impairment, medical assessments and evaluations are often conducted. These assessments aim to measure the functional limitations and restrictions caused by the impairment and assign a level of impairment based on established guidelines and criteria. The resulting impairment rating is then used to determine compensation, rehabilitation, and support for the affected individual.

It is important to note that the experience of a permanent impairment can vary greatly from person to person. Each individual may have unique challenges and circumstances related to their impairment, and the impact on their life can be profound. Some may require ongoing medical treatment, assistive devices, or modifications to their living environment, while others may need vocational rehabilitation or retraining to maintain employment.

A permanent impairment refers to a lasting loss, loss of use, damage, or malfunction of a part of the body, bodily system, or bodily function. It represents a significant and enduring alteration to an individual’s physical well-being and can have long-term consequences. The recognition and support of individuals with permanent impairments are crucial to ensure their well-being and inclusion in society.