Physician’s Guide to Functional Capacity Evaluations
The goal of this instructional text is to introduce the evaluator to an objective Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) system. After mastering the FCE and incorporating these principles into your practice, you will be able to objectively answer the following questions:
- WHEN IS A WORKER READY TO RETURN TO WORK SAFELY?
- ARE WORK RESTRICTIONS OR MODIFIED DUTY REQUIRED?
- HOW DO WE ACHIEVE A FAIR BALANCE BETWEEN RETURNING A PATIENT BACK TO WORK AND DETERMINING LONG-TERM DISABILITY?
- HOW CAN WE DIFFERENTIATE ACTUAL PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS FROM PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS?
- IS THERE A VALID IMPAIRMENT OR IS THE PATIENT MALINGERING?
When we restrict someone’s job duties based on impairment, this also limits their potential earning capacity and is usually compensated by the responsible party. The need to distinguish actual from perceived impairment has a tremendous impact on our economy. Studies indicate Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) are currently the most effective tool available to identify a person’s task abilities for disability rating.
The purpose of the Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is to identify worker’s physical capabilities and the expected critical demands of the job. Once completed objectively, the necessity for further intervention can be addressed. For example, after a baseline FCE, the effectiveness of future medical care or physical
Our Evaluations are a practical solution to prevention, safety, and wellness.
therapy can be objectively rated. Conversely, if no gains are evident with additional care, patient reached maximal medical improvement or permanent and stationary status.
The Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) can also be used to determine any impairment the patient may present with. This information can then be used to determine if disability persists. It is important to recognize the subtle difference between impairment and disability. The two terms are closely related and commonly used interchangeably within medical community, but a distinct difference does exist. This textbook covers medical and legal definitions and applications of the Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE).
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