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What to Expect From a Functional Capacity Evaluation

Almost three million Americans suffered an on the job injury or illness in recent years. If you are one of them, you might need to take a functional capacity evaluation to receive rehabilitation services.

Functional capacity evaluations are a way to see if a person can meet the physical and mental demands of a job.

Who requires a functional capacity evaluation?

Not sure if someone meets the requirements for an FCE? Here are some reasons they might qualify:

  • Applying for Social Security benefits
  • Students transferring from a school setting to work
  • Someone who needs vocational rehabilitation
  • Someone coming back to work after a serious accident

These are a few of the reasons you might need to take a functional capacity evaluation. Usually, it will be an attorney, human resources manager, or insurance representative that will recommend you take one.

What does a functional capacity evaluation look at?

An FCE looks at two things: impairment and disability. Impairment is a medically assessed change in someone’s overall health. Disability is the inability to complete what is required by the job.

An impairment could be something like the loss of a finger while operating machinery. Meanwhile, a disability would include something like an inability to lift objects heavier than 10 pounds in a job that required it.

To determine impairment or disability, an occupational therapist will generally go through four steps:

  1. Initial interview
  2. Reviewing medical history and records
  3. Performing a physical exam
  4. Functional capacity evaluation

What does a functional capacity evaluation consist of?

You will be asked to complete certain physical tasks related to your job. Below are a few tasks might be required to perform:

  • Pushing and pulling an object
  • Lifting various weights
  • Ability to balance when standing, walking, running, or crouching
  • Lifting and stooping
  • Measuring finger dexterity
  • Sitting for extended periods of time
  • Grasping and gripping an object
  • Climbing up and down scaffolding, stairs, etc.

There are more elements of the evaluation, but you may not be asked to perform all of them. Some evaluations last as long as two days.

How should you prepare for a functional capacity evaluation?

As you can see, you will be doing a lot of physical activity during your evaluation. Make sure to dress appropriately in comfortable clothes and sneakers.

Make sure you bring anything related to your condition. That includes medications, braces, canes, or any other relevant medical equipment.

You will be pushing yourself to maximum capacity. If you feel worse and need to stop, notify the specialist evaluating you.

In conclusion, feel confident going to your functional capacity evaluation appointment.

Make sure to communicate with your therapist, attorney, human resources representative, and others before, during, and after.

Do only what you can. Don’t make your condition worse and be clear about what you can and can’t do.

At the end of the day, this test is here to help you get what you need. While our organization does not perform Functional Capacity Evaluations, if you have any questions or concerns about work-place ergonomics and injury prevention, reach out to us at Solutions Northwest Inc. and we can help. Solutions Northwest Inc. employs experts in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and family law. If you need our guidance regarding any of those services, our legal experts are ready to guide you through the process.

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Contact the Vocational Consultants at Solutions Northwest Inc. Below:

Multiple Locations

Corporate Office: 120 State Ave. NE #397
Olympia, WA 98501
Business Hours: 8am-5pm M-F
Corporate FAX: 360-866-4773

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