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About Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a condition described as a chronic pain occurring as a result of trauma to a soft tissue or bone (Type I) or nerve injury (Type II). Type I CRPS is also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and causalgia. A progressive disease of the nervous system, symptoms of pain and burning can affect one, two, three, or all for limbs. In extreme cases other or all parts of the body may be affected. Complications to the condition include depression, anxiety, and atrophy.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
People with limitations from complex regional pain syndrome or reflex sympathetic dystrophy may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people who are aging will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
A college coordinator had reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which made her legs swell.
The employee had to elevate her legs periodically throughout the day. The employer purchased a specialized reclining office chair with footrest. The employee was able to continue working at full production with the new chair and a laptop.
A meter reader had reflex sympathetic dystrophy causing numbness in his feet.
The condition flared in the early morning, so the employee requested a later start time as a reasonable accommodation. The employer modified his schedule which enabled the employee to work when he was feeling his best, but also permitted the job to be performed.
A graphic artist experienced depression which stemmed from reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
He was having difficulty keeping up with the production standards. The employer provided him with an alerting timer which enabled the employee to work on one task until the alarm went off then he could change tasks. This enabled the employee to maintain production requirements.
A social worker with reflex sympathetic dystrophy had limited use of one hand.
The employee was having a hard time keeping up with case documentation requirements. The employer explored alternative input devices on the JAN website and provided the employee with a one handed keyboard and speech recognition software.
An associate director of a nonprofit used a wheelchair due to reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
They had trouble with toileting needs so they requested an accommodation which included additional grab bars be installed and the door to be equipped with an automatic door assist. The employer installed these products with the aid of the state vocational rehabilitation agency.