Functional Capacity Evaluations

Functional Capacity Evaluations

Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a comprehensive set of standardised assessments designed to objectively measure the maximum safe functional abilities of a client in relation to their ability to perform activities of daily living and work-related tasks. Traditionally these focused on the physical demands of the job but can also address the cognitive demands based on the job description.

“FCEs typically require the evaluator to determine the worker’s capability to perform various work-related tasks and whether there is a match between these abilities and the essential job performance components.” American Association of Occupational Therapy.  Most FCE’s within are conducted by occupational therapists in the following incidences:

  • Part of ill health / disability / insured benefits.
    • To assess the ability to safely return to work. This may include returning to their own job/ an alternate job / adapted or altered position
    • To provide recommendations with regards to ongoing treatment e.g. vocational rehabilitation, work hardening or graded return to work program
    • To provide recommendations for reasonable accommodations that may facilitate the return to work process.
  • Part of rehabilitation to assess the client’s functional abilities with regards to the vocational rehabilitation process.
  • Ability to meet job demands as part of a hiring process (pre-work/post-offer employment testing)
  • Ability to meet the demands of other activities (i.e., being a student, volunteering)

These assessments are usually one on one assessments that include an interview and medical record review. They usually take at least 2-3 hours and includes various functional testing depending on job description and diagnosis. These may include material-handling activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling; physical tolerances in sitting, standing, walking, balancing, reaching etc; object handling/manipulation; pain monitoring; and cognitive testing.

A comprehensive report is usually compiled to describe the findings of the functioning noted, provide insight into job-specific abilities and readiness to return to work as well as provide recommendations for adaptations / accommodations / treatment to enhance performance and future potential for return to work.