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Functional Capacity Evaluation


This is a series of tests measuring physical strength, range of motion, stamina, and tolerance to functional activities, including lifting and carrying.  These tests can be used to evaluate work tolerance, and the necessity for work restrictions.  Related terms include Physical Capacities Evaluation (PCE) or Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA). Objective testing for work restrictions is most crucial in workers' compensation claims when employees, employers and physicians need to determine Return To Work (RTW) recommendations.

Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is used by physicians, case managers, and employers to transition injured workers from disability to function and employment.  FCE is the single most reliable measure to determine if a successful return-to-work is possible - as it is inherently a thorough and accurate evaluation process that documents an individual's residual physical abilities, level of effort expended during testing, reliability of reports of pain and limitation, and it is an overall gauge of feasibility for employment.

In a vocational rehabilitation setting the results of Functional Capacity Evaluation are typically used to develop return-to-work plans, as the basis of an offer of alternative employment, or as the foundation for a feasibility development plan (work-focused rehabilitation); results are a sound framework for developing a Temporary Alternative Duty plan.

In a military setting the results of the Functional Capacity Evaluation are used to evaluate progress as the injured soldier transitions back to the force in the usual and customary military occupational specialty (MOS) or to measure the physical ability to reintegrate into a new specialty. It can also be used in preparation for a medical evaluation board or in transition from active duty into Veterans Administration services.


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