The inability of an employee to perform their job duties after an injury is a constant concern to employers and the affected employee. The optimum time to return to work is often in doubt.  The FCE is one tool that PTs and OTs can use to help better determine when an employee is physically capable of returning to the rigors of their job duties.

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We spend a lot of time at work, doing the same thing day in and out, increasing the risk for repetitive injuries. Employee general well being seems to be of increasing interest to employers. As a result, more and more employers are opting into wellness plans and offering incentives for those who participate. Some companies even go as far as to bring wellness to work and allow employees to participate during work time.

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Functional assessment is a burgeoning area of industrial medicine which is quickly moving into many other areas of physical medicine. If you've avoided them, or been uncertain how to manage the complex variables of a Functional Capacity Evaluation, it may be a matter of understanding the differences between a subpar FCE, and a quality FCE that would benefit all parties.

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Every job is unique, and so is every worker. The myriad possible variations that exist between worker ability and the demands of the job can often lead to workplace injuries, and can make it difficult to determine whether or not an injured worker can return to work.

In an attempt to close the gap between worker ability and the task at hand, clinicians investigate functional ability by asking questions such as how much can the worker lift? How often? And how high? But unless the clinician knows the details of the job, the patient's objective ability only results in a best-guess as to whether or not the worker can perform the job functions safely and effectively.

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