Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) helps patient’s/client’s find a safe level for performing daily activities and work.  The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the extent of the patient’s/client’s ability while at the same time determining what restrictions might be personally beneficial. Typically the evaluation is used in work related injuries.  The FCE includes multiple questions that measures a patient’s/client’s perception of how pain is impacting their life.  FCE is a thorough screening of the patient’s/client’s functional capacity, testing everything from sitting tolerance, to lifting capacity, balance and fine motor testing.  The FCE typically takes four hours and is based on a value system:

  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Practicality
  • Utility

The FCE begins with the musculo-skeletal PT evaluation. Standardized tests include fine motor tests, such as; Purdue Pegboard, Minnesota Dexterity Test, Valpar 202 (light strength handling).  The material handling test evaluates the Physical Demand Characteristic (PDC) of work. The test is comprised of lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling.  Other tests within the musculo-skeletal PT evaluation are the Cardiovascular test and the Modified Bruce Protocol which tests for the patient’s/client’s Metabolic Equivalent of Task or MET.

Maximum Voluntary Effort (MVE) is another component of the FCE. It measures the patient’s/client’s pain level, location of their pain, heart rate and blood pressure.  The MVE test has the ability to determine a patient’s/clients full effort. The MVE has multiple ways in determining if a patient’s/client’s pain is non-organic in origin.

At the conclusion of the four hour testing and evaluations the therapist performing the FCE will generate a comprehensive report consisting of 25-30 pages.  The report will detail the findings and provide recommendations. 

If you are interested in receiving more information about a Functional Capacity Evaluation please contact Synergy Physical Therapy Group at 800-281-3237.