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What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) identifies general capacities and tolerances for vocational rehabilitation. The FCE:

  • Is a process of assessing an individual's physical capacities and functional abilities.
  • Matches human performance levels to the demands of a specific job or work activity or an occupation.
  • Identifies general capacities and tolerances for vocational rehabilitation.
  • Establishes the physical level of work an individual can perform.
  • Is useful in determining job placement, job accommodation, or return to work after an injury or illness.
  • Can provide objective information regarding functional work ability in the determination of occupational disability status.

Purpose of an FCE

  • Determine the individual's ability to safely return to work full time or on modified duty
  • Determine if work restrictions, job modifications or reasonable accommodations are necessary to prevent further injury
  • Determine the extent to which an impairment exists or the degree of physical disability for compensation purposes
  • Predict the potential ability to perform work following acute rehabilitation or a work-hardening program

What are the components of FCE?

  1. Baseline FCE - "Objective" assessment of the individual's physical abilities to perform a variety of tasks related to the physical demands of work
  2. Job Specific FCE - An evaluation of the individual's physical abilities to function within the parameters of an identified job. The job specific FCE is based on critical physical demands of the essential functions of the job. Work simulation activities are used as able.

Who should be referred for an FCE?

  • Individuals who have achieved maximum medical improvement but continue to have issues related to re-injury and return to work
  • Individuals who need quantification of their physical capacities for determination of disability status.
  • Individuals who need their function quantified prior to vocational job search and/or return to work
  • Individuals who require quantification of their physical function for medical-legal reasons.

Who will pay for an FCE?

  • Worker's compensation insurance plans
  • State or local agencies
  • Auto insurance plans
  • Private Pay
  • Special pre-authorized individual insurance plans (rare)

Who can refer for the FCE?*

  • Physicians
  • Rehabilitation personnel/Case managers
  • Insurance representatives
  • Employers/human resource agency personnel
  • Attorneys

*These people can refer however a physician prescription is required at CCH

What does the patient do during an FCE?

The evaluation is scheduled with the client in a 3 to 4 hour time block. The initial part of the evaluation is performed at the Chelsea Wellness Center.

At that time, an initial assessment is performed to collect information about the injury, treatment received, perceived activity level, job situation, job demands/essential functions. client goals, motivation for return to work, attitude toward the employer, grip and pinch testing and range of motion and strength testing as needed.

The second part of the evaluation is completed in the Clinics Building on the CCH campus. This session includes a variety of physical tests such as coordination testing, lift tests, ability testing such as kneeling, reaching, carrying, climbing, walking, push/pull, shoveling, etc.

What happens next?

The information is put into a report and then sent to the referral sources. Other related services that can be done include:

  • Job site evaluation
  • Job site body mechanics/ergonomic training
  • Job site ergonomic evaluation for accommodations/modifications.