Physical Functional Capacity Evaluation


What is a physical Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s physical capacity to perform various work activities related to their employment and provides clarity on an individual’s current capacity for work.

The assessment findings can also help guide treatment recommendations and evaluation of an individual’s return to work goal.

When is a Functional Capacity Evaluation required?

  • When it is unclear as to the individual’s ability to perform certain tasks and for what durations.
  • If an individual is reporting aggravations of their condition due to task performance within their rehabilitation programs.
  • If there is a risk that an individual’s rehabilitation program may exacerbate their condition.
  • When medical professionals require a greater clarity to help guide return to work planning.

A Functional Capacity Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment that provides clarity on an individual’s current physical capacity for work.

What's involved?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment which begins with a pre-screening process and a client interview to gain an understanding of current injury status, symptoms, treatments, and psychosocial factors which may impact on recovery or return to work process.

It is then followed by the completion of various functional tests, including range of motion, graded manual-handling, and positional tolerance activities, to assess the client’s physical status.

A series of activities are carried out during the assessment including:

  • a grip test
  • cardiovascular fitness test (step test)
  • postural tolerance tests (sitting, standing, squatting and kneeling)
  • safe maximum lifting capacity
  • endurance lift evaluation
  • safe maximum carrying capacity evaluation
  • job-specific tasks as required
  • manual handling analysis

What is the process at Recovery Partners?

Recovery Partners will contact the referrer within 24 hours of receiving the referral/FCE request to confirm the reason for referral and key areas of focus during the assessment. Following this, the Recovery Partners assessor will contact the client to introduce themselves and arrange a time to complete the assessment.

Following the assessment, an assessment report is completed which outlines a summary of the assessment findings, including the client’s demonstrated functional capacities, job-specific physical abilities, job match information and treatment recommendations. A medical case conference can also be arranged to discuss the findings with the client and their nominated treating doctor and promote a change in certified capacity (if applicable).

How is the assessment measured?

Each test is based off specific protocols to ensure accuracy and reliability of the results. The assessor will frequently monitor the client’s pain and RPE (rating of perceived exertion) levels throughout the assessment to guide progressions and measure the client’s response to each of the tests.
Assessment results are compared to the client’s current Workcover certificate of capacity to identify any areas of discrepancy between the client’s certified capacity/functional restrictions and their demonstrated capacity throughout the assessment. Factors such as self-reported tolerances, performance consistency and overall voluntary effort are also considered.

What happens next?

Upon distribution of the assessment report and completion of medical case conference, we will contact the referrer to confirm service closure, or whether any further assistance is required with relation to the claim. If further services are requested, Recovery Partners are able to provide ongoing services (either same employer or new employer services based on assessment recommendations/findings) to help the client achieve their rehabilitation/return to work goal

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