How Do You Evaluate a Functional Capacity Exam?

Occupational therapists evaluate a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE, by analyzing an individual’s performance in doing work-related activities and identifying the essential skills required to accomplish the tasks efficiently, explains the American Occupational Therapy Association. They determine whether the person’s abilities match the job’s performance requirements.

A FCE assesses a person’s capability to carry out tasks related to employment, states the American Occupational Therapy Association. It involves comparing the worker’s health condition, body functions and physical characteristics to the demands of the workplace.

A FCE usually starts with an interview, a review of medical records and a musculoskeletal screening, states the American Occupational Therapy Association. The exam usually requires the participant to perform pushing, pulling, lifting and other graded material-handling tasks. It also involves positional tolerance actions, such as standing, sitting, walking and balancing. Occupational therapists monitor pain tolerance during the test and evaluate the participant’s endurance, hand dexterity and hand coordination.

A FCE helps determine if a person is fit to return to work after an injury on the job or an illness, notes the American Occupational Therapy Association. Individuals who want to apply for Social Security Disability benefits may also benefit from taking the exam. The test is also useful for anyone who seeks vocational rehabilitation services and students who receive transitional services from school to the workplace.