What Are the Tests Included in a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
Return-to-work and physical rehabilitation programs are often required to help formerly injured employees (who are on their way to recovery) get back to doing their work safely. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) entails several physical tests to assess the overall health of an individual.
If you are an employee with an active workers’ compensation
claim reaching the point of full recovery, the insurance company or your
employer may ask you to undergo a functional capacity evaluation before you’re
allowed to return to work.
This evaluation will measure your functional abilities and
What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
FCE is a series of physical tests usually conducted by a
locally licensed healthcare professional such as a physical therapist who can
administer this type of evaluation. It’s performed at a physical therapy
It may take anywhere from several hours to a two to three-day evaluations. Ideally, the assessment should carefully depict a regular work simulation for the individual being assessed. However, this scenario is not always achievable. Nevertheless, the covered assessment areas will typically include:
- Level of physical effort
- Lifting and carrying capacities such as handling of materials, pushing, pulling, and rolling.
- Tolerance in certain positions such as squatting, crawling, reaching, standing, bending, sitting, balancing, etc.
- Manual speed
- Objective measurements and assessments for the specific injured body part. This includes measuring the range of motion, any signs of swelling or inflammation, muscle strength, etc.
Some functional capacity evaluations may require a work
simulation, emotional assessment, cognitive abilities assessment, and
Other types of testing, such as a functional capacity assessment, work capacity assessment or evaluation, or physical capacity assessment or evaluation, also test the person’s ability to perform at his or her job.
Deciding to submit to a functional capacity evaluation is
vital to your workers’ compensation claim. The results of these tests could
significantly affect certain essential factors such as your disability rating,
the benefits you get, and the lump sum settlement you receive.
It could also influence your chances of getting hired at
another company in your chosen field. When it comes to the other legal
influences of a functional capacity evaluation, it’s best to consult with a
lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation claims and work-related injury
A workers’ compensation attorney is experienced and qualified
to review your work and health situation, give you professional advice, and
recommend the best course of action for your situation.
Can I Refuse an FCE?
A person requested to submit to this type of evaluation may
opt to refuse any of the tests involved in it. However, any refusals will duly
be noted. The administrator, insurance company, and your employer will thoroughly
examine the results of the evaluation, including any comments or remarks that
came from you.
Who Can Perform Return-to-Work and Other Industrial
Like we mentioned above, a local physical therapist certified to conduct an FCE can do this type of evaluation. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, physical and occupational therapists already specialize in professionally assessing an individual’s physical capabilities, their work tasks, and measuring other environmental and physical factors that may affect the person’s performance.
This makes them the perfect healthcare professionals to
conduct this type of comprehensive physical assessment.
Additionally, physical therapy techniques are proven to
enhance a person’s mobility and function through task alterations, adapting to
the environment, and identifying the situation.
State Laws Affecting Functional Capacity Evaluation
Your location will dictate the guidelines and regulations
when it comes to a functional capacity evaluation.
In Texas, for example, employers are not mandated to have
workers’ compensation insurance. This is a hindrance whenever a work-related or
on-the-job injury occurs because it’s going to be difficult for the injured to
claim and recover damages (lost wages, medical bills, etc.)
An FCE can help solidify the fact that you, as the injured
worker, requires rehabilitation and further treatment to return to work.
Other Types of Work-Related Rehabilitation Programs
Aside from the functional capacity evaluation, here are more
work-related rehabilitation programs physical and occupational therapists can
Work Conditioning – Return-to-work conditioning and physical therapy programs.
Post-Offer Employment Evaluation – evaluating the new hire’s ability to do the physical requirements of the job. This is a vital component in workplace safety and disability management programs.
Job-Site Analysis – making the job site a safe and efficient environment for all employees, especially when physical activities are significantly involved in the profession.