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Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs)

After a work injury, it can be difficult to know when you're ready to go back to your normal job duties. At Elite Physical Therapy, we have therapist that are highly skilled and trained in guiding this decision with you. We will use a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) to help guide you in a safe return to work.

Functional Capacity Evaluations are performance-based examinations that help to determine an individual's current functional abilities in relation to their job requirements. This test will define the patient's safe work abilities and is useful in returning patients to appropriate job roles. The test takes 4-8 hours and will be scheduled with a physical therapist.

FCEs may be required by law for some employers before an employee can return to work, as well as by insurers before insurance payments can be made. They may also be used to identify changes to employee workload, modifications to working conditions (e.g., resolving ergonomic or safety issues) or determining medical accommodations an employer may need to make for a worker returning to their job.

Goals of FCEs may include:

  • Establishing a baseline prior to beginning physical therapy. Your therapist will compare your current ability to the requirements of your job. They will use this information to design a treatment plan and goals that ensure your rehabilitation is specific to your needs and help you get back to work safely and quickly.
  • Determining readiness for work following an injury or before starting a new job. Your therapist will evaluate your ability to perform your required job duties and provide return-to-work recommendations based on your performance.

Functional testing may include graded material-handling activities such as:

  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Pushing
  • Pulling

It also includes positional tolerance activities such as:

  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Balancing
  • Reaching
  • Stooping
  • Kneeling
  • Crouching
  • Crawling

FCEs also assess Object Handling / Manipulation related to:

  • Fingering
  • Hand Grasping
  • Hand Manipulation

Participating in an FCE before returning to work can be an important part of your recovery and can be important in preventing future injury.