Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)? 

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) or functional abilities evaluation (FAE) is a comprehensive evaluation of your physical and functional abilities using functional and standardized tests. The FCE can be general, specific to your current job or a potential job, or return to work purposes. After the assessment, it is interpreted by a qualified Physiotherapist and presented to all concerned parties in a comprehensive report.


Functional capacity evaluations can be requested by your health insurance provider, employer, legal representative or the Workers Compensation Board (WCB).


Who performs the functional capacity evaluation? 

FCE’s are performed by a registered physiotherapist who has completed comprehensive training regarding FCE’s with assistance from kinesiologists. These professionals have knowledge, skills and experience needed to effectively evaluate your function and physical capacity and compare it to your workplace requirements.


What is the purpose of a functional capacity evaluation? 

An FCE is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates your current level of physical capacity and outlines what physical level of work you can perform. Depending on your job and the nature of your, an FCE may be used to help determine your abilities and outline any immediate or long-term risks from resuming normal at-work functions. The FCE may also outline any potential workplace modifications or restrictions that are required to protect you from future injury.


What should you expect? 

The FCE will consist of an interview process, where the qualified physiotherapist will review your injury history, current symptoms, and any medical documentation or medical history before completing objective physical testing. Standardized questionnaires may also be used to evaluate cognitive abilities and psychosocial behaviors that are required for your job. During the musculoskeletal exam, the physiotherapist will perform a comprehensive assessment of your entire body (range of motion and strength, bone, joint, ligament and nervous system health). Once this is complete, your assessor will lead you through functional tasks such as gripping, walking, climbing ladders or stairs, fine motor skills, lifting, pushing and pulling objects. Evaluators will be watching for consistency of effort and barriers throughout the assessment. By simulating everyday life skills and job-specific skills, the FCE identifies your current abilities and makes comparisons with the physical demands of your specific job. This will help define any impairments as well as outline any risks or future workplace recommendations.


The length of the FCE varies depending on your needs, the scope of your job requirements and the extent of your injury, but most assessments are intensive and last one to two consecutive days, with 3-4 hours of assessment per day. Although the FCE may recommend specific interventions such as a work hardening program, treatment is not included in the assessment. The full report is aimed to be delivered within ten business days of the assessment, but if any delays are expected, we will communicate such information with all concerned parties.