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Functional Capacity Evaluations

Leandro Alhambra

knee injury

What to Expect During Functional Capacity Evaluations

Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) are usually done after the injured worker has completed physical therapy and/or a work conditioning program. They are typically ordered by the treating physician when the injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement. The purpose of a FCE is to determine your work capacity and whether you are able to return to your job. FCEs are usually administered by a therapist and can take between 2-6 hours. Depending on your injuries, the FCE may test the following:

  • How long you can sit, stand or walk
  • How many pounds you can lift, carry, push and pull
  • Your ability to grip and grasp
  • The ability to bend, stoop and reach
  • Your ability to climb, crouch or crawl.
  • The ability to utilize tools.

Functional Capacity Evaluations Detailed Report

A detailed report will be submitted to your physician for review. The FCE is a tool that your doctor uses to determine whether to place you on permanent activity restrictions. While in most cases the treating physician will generally agree with the FCE findings, some physicians will modify or add restrictions at their discretion.

Functional Capacity Evaluations Validity

Built into the FCE are tasks that measure whether you are giving a sincere effort—referred to as validity testing. Grip testing is a common validity test performed in FCE’s. Your heart-rate will be monitored throughout the exam. If your heart rate doesn’t reach a certain threshold (i.e. 80% of your maximum heart-rate) following certain tasks, this is interpreted as self-limiting behavior and the entire FCE could be deemed invalid.

Functional Capacity Evaluations Advice

The most important advice I give clients prior to an FCE is to give best effort throughout the test. However, it is also important not to overexert yourself and risk injury. This is not a CrossFit competition, where your goal is to set personal records. Communication with the therapist is key. If you are feeling pain while performing a task, it is imperative that that describe to the therapist your pain and what specific action that is causing your pain. If you have question please contact an attorney at (866) 400-4450 or click here to Contact us. 

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