What is an FCE?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a standardized and interdisciplinary assessment methodology conducted by qualified healthcare professionals, typically occupational therapists or physical therapists, designed to comprehensively evaluate an individual's physical and functional capabilities, limitations, and tolerances in relation to their ability to perform essential tasks, activities, or work-related duties. This evaluation involves a series of structured and objective tests and observations, encompassing various physical domains, such as strength, endurance, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness. The FCE aims to provide a detailed and unbiased assessment of an individual's functional capacity, assisting in clinical decision-making, return-to-work planning, disability determination, and rehabilitation program development.

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An FCE in 40 seconds

  • Injured at Work

    Worker experiences a repetitive strain injury. Physician assessment determines restrictions: stay off work, no repetitive lifting or reaching above waist height.

  • Treatment

    Worker receives treatment. At the end of treatment, the Physician, treatment provider, employer, insurer and worker consider return to work.

  • FCE

    The FCE measurers the worker's abilities to perform the job demands. The Physician uses the FCE to determine if there are any remaining restrictions.

  • Can the worker perform the job demands?

  • Did the worker try their best?

  • What are their abilities and restrictions?

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Language of return to work

Both the FCE and JDA use a common language to allow for return to work. They use Occasional, Frequent, Constant to reference duration and Light, Medium and Heavy to reference Strength. Below is a modified version of The Physical Demand Characteristics of Work chart of the U.S. Department of Labor lists the occupational requirements for physical exertion.

Video of the job

The chart can be converted to Kilograms

Below is the Physical Demands Chart converted to Kilograms.

  • Job Demand

    Medium lifting (up to 50 lbs or 22.5 kg)

  • FCE performance

    Light lifting ability (up to 20 lb or 9.1 kg)

  • Comparison

    No job match. Worker is unable to lift the required weight.

What is an FCE