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Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE)

What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs), sometimes referred to as Functional Abilities Evaluations, are about determining abilities and limitations. They are utilized by personal injury lawyers, employers, employment agencies, worker compensation boards, vocational rehabilitation consultants, and insurance companies to determine the functional capabilities and limitations of a particular individual.  These functional capabilities are typically physical, but may also include cognitive elements, when appropriate, such as in the case of traumatic brain injuries. The attributes normally assessed during a Functional Capacity Evaluation include:

  • Standing Tolerance
  • Sitting Tolerance
  • Reliability of Pain and Disability Reports
  • Degree of Physical Effort
  • Posture
  • Gait
  • Mobility
  • Low-Level Work Ability
  • Core Strength
  • Crouching
  • Kneeling
  • Dermatomes (Sensory)
  • Dexterity (Fine and Medium)
  • Metabolic Endurance
  • Material Handling (Functional Strength)
  • Isometric Strength
  • Flexibility (Range of Motion)
  • Cognitive Function (when appropriate)
  • Reaching
  • Bending/Stooping
  • Work Simulation Tasks
  • Grip and Pinch strength

When appropriate for the individual being assessed, cognitive testing (memory, attention, and problem-solving) and/or a work simulation circuit including prolonged positional testing are included.  Many of the tests comprising a Functional Capacity Evaluation are recognized standardized tests that have been peer-reviewed for their validity and reliability and are associated with industry standards.

Back Pain

A personal injury lawyer may request a Functional Capacity Evaluation to establish the extent of the disability of his or her client to resolve their case and achieve a fair settlement for the injuries sustained by their client. These types of FCEs are referred to as Medical/Legal Functional Capacity Evaluations and often are commonly requested along with another report called a Cost of Future Care Report.  A Medical-Legal FCE can involve an extensive review of medical documentation. Moreover, should a settlement not be reached before trial, the FCE evaluator may be called as an expert witness to defend their assessment.

An insurance company may request a Functional Capacity Evaluation to determine if an injured worker who has been off work and on either long-term or short-term benefits, can return to their previous position i.e. meet the physical and/or cognitive demands of the position.  If the worker is not able to meet the physical and/or cognitive demands of their previous occupation, the case manager representing the insurance company may ask what types of work the individual is capable of.  Moreover, the case manager may ask for recommendations from the evaluator to facilitate a return to work.  These recommendations may include a graduated return to work plan, an active rehabilitation program, and special equipment and/or accommodations in the workplace.

Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE)

An employment agency or a vocational rehabilitation consultant may utilize a Functional Capacity Evaluation to identify what types of work an individual is suitable for before proceeding with a re-training program and/or a work search.

Peak Kinesiology tailors their Functional Capacity Evaluations to the specific referral questions the case manager, employer, or lawyer wants answered and the injuries and symptoms reported.

Who is the FCE Evaluator?

Peak evaluators are qualified therapists who have undergone additional certification training in functional capacity evaluation and are qualified expert legal witnesses.

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