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What is FCE? (Functional Capacity Exam)

A  Functional Capacities Evaluation (usually called an FCE) is a test which measures what you can do and can’t do AND reports on how hard you tried on the test.

Permanent restrictions are very important in a Workers Compensation case. Frequently,  injured workers  who have had surgery recover; but don’t recover 100%.  Their doctor will place temporary or permanent  medical restrictions on them  in terms of lifting, pushing , pulling, working overhead or repetitive work.

How does a doctor decide what restrictions are right? Sometimes, a doctor will request an FCE which is a test which measures what the injured worker can or can’t do in terms of physical activity. This test gives the doctor a factual basis on which to impose restrictions.

You may hear that an FCE is an “objective” test. This may be right to some extent but the quality of the test and the competence of the person administering the test can have an impact on the result. Results can vary.

It is very important that the injured worker give the FCE  full and consistent effort. The test also measures effort and the person administering the test may report that the result is “invalid” if they feel that the person being tested isn’t giving the test 100% effort. It is a mistake to try and influence the outcome by trying to out think the test. A finding that the test is  “invalid” is a polite way of saying that the person being tested is faking and not the  language you want in a report . Likewise, the injured worker should NOT try and convince the person administering the test that they are disabled or show excessive complaints of pain.


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