“Please explain why you think these providers deserve a Comp Laude Award.”
[Last edited on October 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm — principles still apply; These were MY Nominees for #CompLaude Awards 2014; Deadline for YOUR 2015 #CompLaude Nominations is August 31, 2015 — LOOK, THINK, DO…. ]
“IMPORTANT NOTE: The information you provide should illustrate specific examples of why you think the nominee is deserving of an award. This portion will be reviewed by our judges who will apply a score based on the substance of your answer. Information is subject to verification by WorkCompCentral staff or assignees.”
Don Risser, Licensed Acupuncturist of Hi-Desert Acupuncture Center,
Serving the Hi-Desert since 2000
is a very knowledgeable, practical, pragmatic, kind, thoughtful acupuncturist, with a strong practice in Chinese medicine, and a strong background in law. He works by appointment only. Acupuncture is all about the brain and the body systems.
Traumatic Brain Injury seems to short-circuit all body systems; acupuncture is a tangible, measurable healing modality.
I found Don Risser upon referral by a local real estate broker in August 2013, who listened over coffee to my tale of horrors in regards to the failure of my employer and it’s agents to provide immediate, reasonable and necessary care for a brain injury and related orthopedic injuries since 1/9/12.
(In the first year of the injury, I found a local acupuncturist and saw her twice, and she relieved some brain fog and some neck and back pain, but it lasted just a few hours. Then attorney allegedly representing me, demanded that I could not see her, and that he was responsible for getting me to the right doctors. He never did. I dismissed him in November 2012 when he attempted to coerce me to accept a premature settlement offer, without having seen the recommended specialists and without having benefit of recommended treatments.)
When I first met Don, I rambled in my dysfluent, sometimes incoherent cognitively impaired way, and told my story as best I could that August 2013. I concluded my story-telling with, “So. Do you think you can help me and if so, how??!!!” He gently, in a real Zen-type way, assured me that by using the principles of Chinese medicine, he was certain that my conditions would improve.
Today, I still ramble, but with more fluency and more coherency, and much less tangential-ism.
While I am still absolutely outraged about WorkComp in America, I also attribute nearly weekly acupuncture sessions with Don for re-directed range and inner peace and courage and hope.
I never quote him exactly right, but what I do know is that he was absolutely right, and the results for the improvements in my vision (from self-procured neuro-optometrist in 2013 to self-procured-optometrist in 2014, there were remarkable and measurable improvements in vision, along with speech, depression, and neck and back pain.
Since treatment had NOT been authorized by the WorkComp insurance carrier for my injuries, only evaluation after evaluation, disregarding all physician requests, the only progress to my healing could be attributed to self-procured care. Don is the only provider I have seen consistently, without interruption by or threats from the Defense firm.
In late 2013/early 2014, 6 sessions of acupuncture were finally authorized for treatment of the right shoulder rotator cuff tear (not diagnosed until mid-2013, when physical therapy was finally authorized). It took a Court Hearing and Order to convince the carrier and defense to schedule the acupuncture, and they tried to isolate it to JUST THE RIGHT SHOULDER (even though they objected to the right shoulder as a ‘body part”…although the defense had included it in the premature settlement C & R.)
I had already been seeing Don for relief and healing. Acupuncture is a holistic treatment, and while Don followed the orders for treating the right shoulder, other body systems benefited secondarily.
The company making the appointments wanted to send me to a different acupuncturist, far from home, for the 6 sessions, for the right shoulder only. At my request, they called Hi-Desert Acupuncture and spoke with Don, and apparently he was approved. He helps many work comp injured people, and is apparently a part of many networks, just not the one alleged to exist at my carrier. I believe 12 more sessions were authorized, as the improvements to not only my vision and speech were measurable, but also the pain levels of the right shoulder rotator cuff and ranges of motion were measurably improved.
Of all the visits I have had with Don, most have been paid for out of pocket. He has listened to me whine and cry and babble about the horrors of being abused in the workers comp system, by the carrier and the defense firm, and pure silence from my employer. He has always been kind and non-judgmental, and often providing a short paradigm shifting thought of courage and healing and freedom.
When I was got new neuro-optometric prism lenses, again self-procured due to waiting more than 2 years for the carrier to provide the often requested help, I splurged and used my last few hundred dollars to pay for the new glasses, knowing another disability check was coming. No check came. In fact, a notice of another illegal interruption of benefits arrived. I had a credit on my account with Hi-Desert, and I will always remember his kindness when I cried that I had NO MONEY left and that again they had begun with the financial terrorism. He came back to the treating room and handed me the credit money from my account, so that I could get food.
I am so grateful to Don Risser, for so many reasons, and most of all for the light and wisdom that he powerfully holds and freely and so generously shares. He is a true member of the healing communities and honors the rules to DO NO HARM.
Yucca Valley is near the 29 Palms Marine Base….. We have many returning soldiers suffering from consequences of Traumatic Brain Injuries, and many just written off with a simple “PTSD” diagnosis and some drugs to keep them calm and quiet.
Don has proven to me that acupuncture is a powerful treatment for TBI. I know the VA is aware of the some of the benefits, and that DAARPA is doing a great deal of research. Let’s get #WorkComp on board with acupuncture as a first line of defense, not a last resort.
Just think, if Charles Romano had found a good acupuncturist rather than the cut ‘n poison route he took, probably at the demands of his attorney, he might still be alive, may he rest in peace and know he is not forgotten. When the Orthopedic Doctor in my case saw the MRI’s in mid-2013 for my right shoulder injury, he urged surgery. “Charles Romano” flashed in my mind. I said, “Not now. Let’s deal with my brain injuries first, then I can make an informed decision.”
The body is designed to heal itself. Acupuncture is a way to facilitate such healings. Don Risser is a bright light in our community, and a gift to any injured person seeking assistance with healing.
I wish injured workers throughout the USA the joy and benefits and blessings of finding an acupuncturist with the skill and will-to-good as great as Don Risser! Thanks Don! What goes around, comes around; much good coming back to you and yours! xoxooxxoxo
Dr. Hilda Chalgujian, an extraordinary neuro-psychologist,
normally treats and diagnoses patients with head traumas outside of the world of workers compensation. She is kind, energetic, extremely knowledgeable about the brain, the various lobes, the symptoms and consequences of damage to the lobes, and it seems that she is knowledgeable about the intricacies of even each little neuron and neuro-pathway. She is a scientist.
I found Dr. Hilda after the designated primary doctor, an Orthopedic Surgeon, designated by the Work Comp people to manage specialists, finally said, ‘as you can see, they will not authorize anything I request for brain injury specialists; you’ll have to find your own’.
I made many calls to many doctors in Southern California, and one name kept coming up, Dr. Hilda Chalgujian, as the one who knows the most about brain injuries. In our brief conversation in scheduling an appointment, it was apparent she could tell by my speech patterns that I was in need of help. I told her I didn’t know how I would pay her, but that I would find a way. She told me she would help me, because it was the right thing for her to do, as a doctor. Miraculously, the defense designated her as the secondary treating doctor, and an exception to their alleged MPN network.
I have been seeing Dr. Hilda nearly weekly since April of 2014. Her validation of my concerns and cognitive complaints has been helpful.
At our first session, I was a little early and she was a bit behind schedule. With a brain injury, I am easily overwhelmed, particularly in new circumstances. The door was locked, there were painters in the hallway, and I was very confused if I was in the wrong building, wrong date, wrong time…. so… I sat on the floor and cried hysterically when I dialed her number and got voice mail. Within minutes, she arrived, saw me sobbing on the floor, and we walked in to her office as if nothing strange had just happened. Partially through the session she paused and said, ‘you know, that little incident out there with you sitting on the floor is not unusual for a TBI survivor’… I gasped and said, “OMG, and I do it more and more. I even did it after leaving WorkComp Court, and the Judge kindly helped me to my car, and made me promise not to drive till I pulled myself back together. It’s socially quite challenging…..”
Dr. Hilda did hours and hours of testing (she didn’t delegate it to an assistant or colleague, she administered every test). She then poured through and evaluated medical reports since 2012, at the insistence of the defense, and summarized them all, and pointed out flaws in a few, and confirmed the findings of the early neuro-psychologists I had been evaluated by, and reiterated recommendations for treatment.
Dr. Hilda did not sugar coat any promises of much improvement because of the harsh facts that I was not treated immediately, or within the first two years, but she did offer hope with a small window, if we could get treatment, I could benefit with some compensatory strategies and improvements. In April 2014, she requested 6 months of inter-disciplinary treatment in a facility such as SCRIPPS, Casa Colina or Learning Systems or CNS. Sadly, the carrier wasted time, and then authorized only 16 days starting August 4, 2014, with an additional 8 days at the SCRIPPS BRAIN REHABILITATION PROGRAM in Encinitas, in agreement with Dr. Michael Lobatz, Scripps Chief of Staff and Neurologist. While the 24 days at SCRIPPS were beneficial, they were certainly not sufficient for the work ahead to get me to MMI, with sufficient strategies to return to work, in some capacity.
Additional MRI for TBI protocol was performed, further confirming suspicions and earlier findings of doctors, and Dr. Hilda’s comprehensive indisputable report was nearly 40 pages in length. Was it enough to encourage the carrier and defense to finally provide reasonable and appropriate medical care? No. The fight wages on.
Dr. Hilda has helped me come to grasp with the fact that yes, I am a high IQ TBI survivor and yes, I have severe brain injuries and sadly, because my employer and it’s agents failed to provide medical care impeded self-procured medical care, this is my new reality. The defense delayed, denied and deceived continuously during the time of the small window left for treatment this year, dashing hope for much more improvement outside of compensatory strategies that can be found with neuro-vision therapy, speech therapy with cognitive remediation for high-level executive functions, occupational therapy, and related medical devices such as theraputic prism lenses, and hearing aids and contining neuro-psychological therapy. This apears to be my new reality, harsh as it is.
We are still working on getting authorization for the one-to-two year Coastline Cognitive Rehabilitation Program in Newport Beach, with return to work accommodations. The fact that Dr. Hilda has not given up in the face of all the chicanery, help me keep going too.
Dr. Hilda has helped me to see that in spite of my injuries, I’m still smart, and I can still think, and although my muddling with the written word annoys the heck out of some people, it is a valid compensatory strategy for my loss of cognitive abilities…. While I cannot speak like I can type, that, too, is getting better and better, one breath at a time.
I am so grateful to Dr. Hilda for her will-to-good, for the sake of doing good, and for her support and wishes to see me return to work in some capacity, and to move forward in my new life. She is not a ‘work-comp-mill’ doctor, and does not have templates to fill in on how her patients are doing. She is a real doctor, concerned about her patients, and willing to go the extra miles, as if lives depend on her to do so.
Anyone with a brain injury would be blessed to have Dr. Hilda Chalgujian as a treating doctor, as I feel I am.
Nancie Glidden- Learning Services – Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Business Development Liaison | Learning Services – Southern California Campus – Escondido
T: 760-746-3223, x5104 | F: 888-427-4572 | C: 858-357-3000
Nancie Glidden is a friendly face in the world of Workers Compensation. I first met Nancie when I was blessed to be granted a guest pass to visit the Exhibit Hall of the CAAA Winter Conference in Rancho Mirage. She graciously gave me information about her company and wished me well. She also introduced me to a few other kind providers with booths at the conference. She followed up to see if there had been any happy resolutions to my horrific battles.
I saw Nancie again at the SCRIPPS 9th Annual Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference in San Diego. Again, she was a her both, sharing light and joy and all good things of hope and compassion and concern. She again followed up to see if there had been any happy resolutions to my horrific battles.
As delays and denials happened with the defense and carrier to prevent me from being admitted to the SCRIPPS Brain Rehabilitation Program, I called upon Nancie to see if her Learning Services organization could accept me since I finally had a medical report and expert doctor saying, ‘yep, her brain is injured and she can benefit by treatment, even at this late stage’….. and Nancie cheerfully put me in touch with the right people. She followed up to see if there had been any happy resolutions to my horrific battles, and I was glad to be able to say that I was starting for a short time at SCRIPPS. She wished me well.
At the recent CWC- Dana Point/St. Regis conference, I had opportunity to meet with a few wonderful people of the Work Comp world, and I was able to quickly browse the Exhibit Hall. Nancie’s booth was there, but she must have been in the conference, as it was late in the day.
The CEO of her firm spoke at the SCRIPPS conference and indicate many of the challenges of a head injury, and she said, if I heard her right, sort of tongue-in-cheek, ‘….so, if you ever get a head injury, get it at work because then work comp is responsible for your life time medical, and it will be huge….’…. We would have to agree to disagree on that point, because if it wasn’t for the horrors of WorkComp, my injuries would likely be substantially less, and I might have returned to work in that first year.
Maybe we’ll reconvene at CAAA Winter 2015. I have asked them if they will kindly create a new category for INJURED WORKERS, in Pro Per, with at least an Exhibit Hall Pass, and a session or two, or even a buddy – system to connect injured workers directly with providers.
As to Nancie, as I racked my brain to find people to be grateful for in this workcomp terror, Nancie Glidden is a bright spot in my search for help, kindness, compassion and resources. I wish her well, and I say her company is very very very fortunate to have such a bright spokesperson at the various events.
Lynn Lowell, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.
Community Vision Care Coordinator
Pediatric and Vision Therapy Department
Marshall B. Ketchum University
Southern California College of Optometry
“Excellence in Patient Care, Clinical Education and Research”
2575 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
Phone No. (714) 449-7490
Fax No. (714) 992-7846
It was another miracle to find Dr. Lynn Lowell. In my search for a neuro-optometrist, since the Defense had failed to authorize treatment in the first year of my injury, and interrupted such treatment self-procured in the second year, by early 2014 I knew I had to get some help for my vision if I was ever to return to real life, outside of my home.
I checked the NORA site, https://nora.cc/healthcare-locator.html , Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, “Providing the Missing Link to Your Recovery” for a local provider. Through a series of calls, I found Dr. Lowell and sent her an email, since email is easier than speaking for me. She was so kind, smart and generous with her responses, and I was able to schedule an evaluation with her within a couple of weeks.
Dr. Lowell trains new optometrists regarding brain injuries and vision, and has a background in workers compensation in other states as well. Her expertise in neuro-optometry is unparalleled. The testing was very comprehensive, and included what seemed to be neuro-psych testing as well, and the prescription for readers/distance that I had self-procured from another neuro-optometrist the year before, who’s care was terminated by the defense, was replaced with progressive prism lenses, that opened up my world, and allowed me to leave the house for more than just a doctors appointment.
Because Ketchum University is a teaching center, sending new doctors out around the nation, the costs are relatively low, and the doctors are able to spend real patient time. Their vision therapy equipment is state of the art, and it’s a great place, doing great things, helping people to see and live. Dr. Lowell is a key component of their TBI program.
Dr. Lowell’s scientific understanding of the brain is stellar and mind-bending. In my opinion, she could teach WorkComp neurologists a thing or two about vision and brain trauma, and I hope she will be invited to speak on the WorkComp circuit, particularly as brain injury becomes more ‘mainstream’ and people begin to take better care of their children, and anybody with a brain injury.
While Dr. Lowell made no promises that my speech would improve with the theraputic prism lenses and vision therapy, she did mention that several of her patients do present with many improvements in all areas of cognition. The results of Dr. Lowell’s testing showed some improvements from the prior year’s exam by another doctor, and I attribute that to acupuncture, self-procured. Dr. Lowell indicate that it would take a good 30 days for my brain to adjust to the new way of seeing through the prisms, and that vision therapy would be of even greater benefit.
The blessings of having found Dr. Lowell, and her staff, and getting these new lenses has give me life again, and the will to fight back, and the ability to see better, process information better, and stand taller, and speak more clearly, and just generally, begin the journey back into my life
Neuro-Optometry is a key component of brain injury rehabilitation, and the carriers would do well to court doctors in the NORA group, such as Dr. Lowell, who have current, state of the art information about vision and brains, unlike that sad majority of WorkComp old-school neurologists, working from bodies of information from their school days.
I suggested to Dr. Lowell that we will have to write a book about WorkComp and Brain Injuries and Vision. Perhaps combined with the Neuro-Psychology input of Dr. Chalgujian and Acupuncture of Don Risser, and if we ever get any designated Speech/Occupational therapists on board for the long run, a solid book could be written, based on my case and all the mis-haps of it, so that no other brain injured worker will have to endure the horrors I have within the WorkComp System.
If work comp wants to be a positive force, finding and keeping good doctors in the the provider resources would be a good step forward; Finding a way to eliminate the defense lawyers would be a next step….several could be relocated to local penitentiaries, imho, after proper trials, of course.
The only real treatment I have received, with the exception of the short time authorized on multiple appeals at SCRIPPS, has been self-procured care, with kind and knowledgeable experts, such as Dr. Lowell, or “authorized exceptions” because the alleged MPN had no specialists.
Dr. Lowell’s approach to brain and vision seems a bit like “magic”…but it’s sheer science.