Functional Capacity Evaluations

Dr. Eric Gerken, D.C. conducts functional capacity evaluation (FCE) at Mind and Brain Care.

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment (Soer et al., 2008). The FCE process compares the individual’s health status, and body functions and structures to the demands of the job and the work environment. In essence, an FCE’s primary purpose is to evaluate a person’s ability to participate in work, although other instrumental activities of daily living that support work performance may also be evaluated. Similar types of testing may also be called a functional capacity assessment (FCA), physical capacity assessment or evaluation (PCA or PCE), or work capacity assessment or evaluation (WCA or WCE). A well-designed FCE should consist of a battery of standardized assessments that offers results in performance-based measures and demonstrates predictive value about the individual’s return to work (Kuijer et al., 2011; Soer, et al., 2008). Traditionally, FCEs measured an individual’s ability to perform the physical demands of a job, but over the last decade many FCE batteries have begun to include evaluation of cognitive demands if such testing is warranted. The FCE must be administered with care for the client’s safety and well-being.

Who Can Benefit From an FCE?

  • Someone who has been injured on the job to determine his or her ability to return to the job or alternate work
  • Someone applying for Social Security Disability benefits
  • Someone seeking to return to work or volunteer activities after an injury or illness
  • Someone injured in a catastrophic accident (i.e., automobile accident) for whom an FCE can determine performance skills and abilities related to resuming former employment or a new job
  • Someone seeking vocational rehabilitation services
  • Students receiving transitional services from school to the work setting to determine their skills and the extent of support required to perform in a job