A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) assesses an individual's ability to perform the duties of their job role. In an FCE, a physical therapist examines and interviews the patient to evaluate their recovery progress and determine whether or not they can safely return to work. The specialist may also suggest accommodations for the employee in their workplace, and they may suggest a continued course of physical therapy treatment for the employee after they've returned to work.
Alliance physical therapists conduct Functional Capacity Evaluations in many of our clinics. We evaluate our patients' condition with their well-being in mind, and we are proud to help workers return to their jobs safely.
Who Can Benefit from FCEs?
Employees who've missed work and collected workers' compensation payments due to a work-related injury or illness must undergo an FCE before returning to work. Here are a few other groups of people that can benefit from or may be required to undergo an FCE:
- People who’ve voluntarily taken time off work due to an illness or injury
- People applying for Social Security Disability benefits
- People seeking vocational rehabilitation services
- Students receiving transitional assistance from school to a workplace setting to determine their skills and ability to perform a particular job
FCEs may also be used to determine whether or not an individual is capable of living on their own.
What to Expect from the FCE Process
Each FCE differs based on the details of a patient's case. Most include an interview, medical history review, and musculoskeletal screening. They range in length from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the patient's condition and the purpose of the screening, and they may be broken up into multiple sessions over several days.
After the interview portion, the clinician will conduct a series of physical tests to determine whether the patient can manage activities like pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, reaching, grabbing, or sitting up and down from a chair. In some cases, a physical therapist will evaluate the client's ability to perform specific tasks related to their job, such as gripping a steering wheel, standing for extended periods, or grabbing boxes from an overhead shelf. The evaluation may also involve pain monitoring to document the patient's pain levels while performing certain activities, as well as their ability to manage pain.
Patients may receive their FCE results immediately upon their exam, or the specialist may take a few days to complete their testing report and deliver conclusions. The payment responsibility is typically on the employer who ordered the evaluation, although it may be on the patient if they've referred themselves for an FCE.
Need a Functional Capacity Evaluation for yourself or your employees? Contact an Alliance clinic in your area today!