If you’ve suffered an injury or illness that has affected your ability to perform your job or everyday tasks, requires physical rehabilitation, or entitles you to compensation, then it’s important to understand what Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) are and when you might need one.
FCEs are an excellent tool for doctors, health insurance providers, employers, and lawyers when assisting patients, clients, and workers. In a nutshell, FCEs are used to form an objective opinion regarding the extent of a person’s injuries and their functional abilities. This objective viewpoint is helpful in a variety of ways; it helps the client understand what they may need for rehabilitation services to get better, and it presents an unbiased opinion as to what you can and cannot do.
What are Functional Capacity Evaluations, and how do they work?
Functional Capacity Evaluations are performed by certified professionals and consist of physical tests, simulations, questionnaires, and observations that are used to determine someone’s physical and/or cognitive ability to perform certain tasks.
Let’s break this down a little further.
Who performs Functional Capacity Evaluations? Those who perform FCEs must first complete specialized training, such as Matheson’s Functional Capacity Evaluation Program. Often, those who seek out FCE certification already have experience in a relevant field, such as occupational therapy or physical therapy. Due to their backgrounds in assessing and helping people complete tasks, occupational therapists tend to be especially well-suited for FCE training.
Thankfully, there are many coverage options for occupational therapy services in BC.
What tests are involved in Functional Capacity Evaluations? FCEs should be customized to each patient, their injuries, and the tasks that they need to perform at work or in everyday life. Usually a series of standardized functional assessments will take place over several hours, sometimes across multiple days. These assessments can be used to evaluate range of motion, flexibility, strength, stamina, cognitive functions, and so on.
For example, depending on the situation, FCEs may be used to determine someone’s ability to sit at a desk for extended periods of time, lift heavy objects, or perform day-to-day tasks independently.
Why is it important that Functional Capacity Evaluations are performed by an objective third party? This is important as FCEs are often used in cases involving workers compensation, insurance, disability, or an employee’s ability to return to work. We dive deeper into this later in the article.
What are Functional Capacity Evaluations used for?
FCEs are used for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the more popular uses.
Determining an employee’s ability to return to work safely. Functional Capacity Evaluations are often used to assess whether or not an employee can safely perform their typical job duties, when/if they will be able to return to work, and to what capacity. Are any special accommodations required? Would it be best for the employee to take on a less physically demanding role at the company?
In this respect, FCEs are used to protect both workers and employers, resolve disputes, and help ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace.
There are several therapies and services that can help people recover from injuries, illness or disabilities. FCEs are the best way to determine which treatment options would be most effective, and to evaluate those treatment methods and make adjustments if necessary.
What to expect at an FCE
If you’re scheduled for an FCE, you may be wondering what to expect. Here are some things that you should know before your appointment: