What does a functional capacity evaluation test consist of?

''Functional Capacity Evaluation:'' 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) or Work Capacity Evaluation. An evaluator skilled in Functional Capacity Evaluation will use a battery of standardized tests, designed around key factors that include diagnosis, impairment, pain and functional limitation, referral questions, and, in some instances, the case resolution goal. FCE's value to the injured individual is the focus on functional ability instead of the pain limitation associated with an impairment. It considers speed, flexibility, endurance, skill and strength through the use of functional testing, MTM, and standardized measurements to assess job-fit status. Functional Capacity Evaluation is not only a useful clinical tool, but a baseline for industry-standard results that clearly define an individual's transition from injury to employment, and from disability to deployment.

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.

Functional Capacity Evaluation provides an important bridge from the impairment phase of medical evaluation to the disability recovery phase. While FCE provides documentation of impairment, it is best suited to the evaluation and amelioration of disability. Providing a means for a shift from the disability to vocational feasibility construct is an attainable goal with the use of FCE.