When a worker is injured, everyone has an agenda: the employer needs the injured worker back on the job at full capacity, the insurance company wants to limit the amount of payout for care and rehabilitation, and the physician wants the worker to return to work only when fully recovered or at maximum medical improvement.

Functional Capacity Evaluation

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), also called Physical Capacities Evaluation (PCE), Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA), or Work Capacity Evaluation, is used by physicians, case managers, and employers to determine fitness for work and transition injured workers from disability to function and employment.

Instead of measuring pain with performing tasks, FCE considers speed, flexibility, endurance, skill and strength through the use of functional testing and standardized measurements to assess job-fit status. FCE is the single most reliable way to clearly measure and define when an individual needs rehabilitation, can return to work, or needs to be retrained for another job.

A Functional Capacity Evaluation involves observing a worker’s limitations with the following:

  • Exertion
  • Body position
  • Manipulation of objects
  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Exposure to environmental extremes

Conclusions of the Evaluator

The evaluator will conclude with a statement indicating whether or not:

  • The symptoms are attributed to a medically determined impairment
  • The severity of symptoms and effect on function is consistent with signs, symptoms, and observations of functional capacity in performing work-related tasks

Conclusions are based on all evidence in the worker’s file, including clinical and laboratory findings, symptoms, observations, and reports of daily activities.