Functional Capacity Evaluations

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is an assessment tool often required when a person has had an injury that may affect employment. An FCE is normally conducted by physical therapists with special training and certification. They are typically used after a worker’s compensation claim to determine if the injury sustained will inhibit the ability to return to work.

A person’s ability to perform duties and function in a variety of work-related settings is assessed through standardized tests and observations that will:

  • Collect information regarding physical abilities
  • Determine whether or not an employee can return to previous job duties
  • Determine strengths, abilities, weaknesses and needs
  • Establish the level of physical performance within tolerance

A typical FCE, which includes a questionnaire and simulated activities, can last several hours or longer, depending on the scope of testing. The therapist will determine the patient’s strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, cardiovascular condition, body mechanics, and pain.

Through this analysis, a therapist identifies if changes to an employee’s workload are needed, or modifications to the work environment. The FCE also provides information on long-term prognosis, as well as what occupational rehabilitation treatments may be beneficial.