Massage treatment for injured longshoreman

According to a recent decision from the Benefits Review Board in R.C. v. Caleb Brett., L.L.C, BRBS No. 08-0741 (April 16, 2009), massage treatment for injured longshoreman was deemed compensable under Section 7 of the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 7(a) of the Act provides that an employer is liable for medical care and treatment related to the work injury. 33 U.S.C. §907(a). Meanwhile, 20 C.F.R. §702.404 states “The term physician includes . . . chiropractors. . . .. The term includes chiropractors only to the extent that their reimbursable services are limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation shown by X-ray or clinical findings.”

In Caleb Brett, a chiropractor was the “treating doctor” under Section 702.404 who treated the claimant for subluxation of the spine. As the treating doctor, the employer was liable to pay for the treatment provided or prescribed by the chiropractor. The chiropractor prescribed massage therapy and referred the claimant to a massage therapist for that treatment. At trial, the chiropractor testified that massage therapy was vital to the recovery of the claimant’s subluxation. The Benefits Review Board reversed the trial judge and ruled that the applicable regulations dictated that the massage therapy was compensable treatment under Section 7, as well as reasonable and necessary for the treatment of a subluxation of claimant’s spine.