What do you do in a functional capacity evaluation (FCE's)?

What do you do in a functional capacity evaluation (FCE's)?

Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) involves a battery of objective of tests and observations to evaluate your physical ability to function in different tasks. The final report can help demonstrate what activities you can safely perform within the context of an FCE test.

Interview:  The interview may take 10 minutes or an hour depending on the complexity of your situation. The functional capacity evaluator will review your medical records and ask a series of questions about your injury and what you do at work.  The functional capacity evaluation is one-on-one, meaning there will not be other people being evaluated in the room with you.

You may be asked to fill out some paperwork, just as you would at many doctor’s appointments. If you have trouble sitting or writing because of your injury, you can ask for help with this part. You may be asked to review the forms with the evaluator.

The tests that are part of a Functional Capacity Evaluation:

  •  Material handling (lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying)
  • Positional tolerance (squatting, kneeling, walking, reaching, bending, sitting, standing, crawling, balance, etc.)
  • Objective measurements for injured body parts (range of motion, muscle strength, circumferential measurements for swelling,  etc.)

Although an FCE has standardized tests, the test battery will be tailored to your injuries and your job demands. 

For example, if you are a postal worker with a back injury, the range of motion tests will focus on your spine, and the material handling tests will focus on your ability to walk and carry. 

How long does it take?

The tests can take several hours or may be performed over two consecutive days. The length of time is dependent on your injury and your job. The tests should not injure you, if you feel pain you should report this to the functional capacity evaluator. You can stop at a test at any time for any reason. Your safety is a primary concern of the evaluator, they will closely observe you during the FCE and stop the tests if they feel you are at a risk of harm. 

Once you have completed the tests you can go home.

The report

The evaluator will prepare a detailed report and send it to the referral source. (maybe your doctor, lawyer or insurance company).


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