I. Return to work (RTW) FCE:
Return to work FCE’s can be done in the initial stages of a work injury but they are usually performed when an injured employee is at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and has reached a point in their rehabilitation where they are failing to make functional progress. These FCE’s are usually job-specific FCE’s that can be completed over 1 or 2 days. This type of FCE might also be recommended if the employee is working with restrictions (modified duty) and the employer/medical professional wants to see if the injured worker is now capable of handling his/her pre-injury job. This type of FCE might be recommended in the early stages of a worker’s rehabilitation in an effort to identify the job tasks that the worker can perform safely on a “modified basis” or if the worker can actually meet the pre-injury job requirements.
- Job Specific FCE – Return to work FCE’s are usually Job specific. A Job Specific Functional Capacity Evaluation compares the injured employee’s physical abilities to a specific job or occupation. It also assists in determining whether or not the injured employee can safely meet the essential physical functions of their job. A job specific FCE will compare the injured worker’s test results (strength capacities and associated job factor capabilities) against a specific job’s/occupation’s strength capacities and associated job factor capabilities.
- Short Form Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) – Similar format to the One Day-FCE but usually takes less time to complete (generally 45 minutes to 1 hour). These are done in the early stages of a work injury. Since the Short Form FCE takes less time to complete, it can be easily performed on a monthly basis to help document progress over time. This FCE is not as comprehensive and eliminates consistency of effort testing because it’s done early on and during the rehabilitation program. The Short Form FCE will also document rehabilitation goals and progress over time.
II. Disability Determination FCE:
Disability FCE’s are usually performed on people with chronic injuries or disease that are applying for long term disability or SSD (Social Security Disability). The person sent for this type of FCE is generally considered to have reached MMI (maximum medical improvement), and the purpose of this test is to document residual functional abilities or to assist in the claim settlement and/or case closure process. The type of FCE performed is usually a General (non job specific) FCE that is completed over 1 or 2 days.
- General FCE or non job specific FCE – Disability FCE’s are usually general or non job specific. This type of FCE helps determine an individual’s general physical abilities and type of work that can be safely performed. The individual’s functional abilities, however, are not matched to the physical demands of a specific job/occupation. Also, this type of FCE does not compare the individuals test results against a specific job/occupation but does determine the individual’s overall strength capacities and associated job factor capabilities found during the test.
III). Miscellaneous FCE Testing
Miscellaneous FCE testing is when return to work or disability determinations do not necessarily apply. They are basically General or Job Specific tests performed over 1 or 2 days. Examples of miscellaneous testing: 1) General FCE test could be ordered to determine if an individual could do any job (not just one specific occupation), 2) Job Specific FCE could be ordered to see if the injured worker could perform different job (unrelated to their pre-injury job requirements).
Differences Between One Day and Two Day FCE Testing:
Return to work or disability determination FCE’s are usually done over a one or two day period. A One Day FCE is conducted on the same day and averages about 2-4 hours in duration. A two day FCE is conducted over a two day period and the individual repeats the same tasks that were performed on day one. Thus, the two day FCE can ultimately give the examiner a better understanding of how an individual is able to perform & tolerate work tasks over time.