Functional Capacity Evaluations

Functional Capacity Evaluations

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a comprehensive test procedure designed to determine the examinee’s current capacity to dependably and sustainably meet the physical demands of a specific occupation or alternative occupations. The FCE also assists in determination of the examinee’s capacity to meet the physical demands of domestic life and recreational activity.

Functional Capacity Evaluations are completed by registered Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists with certification in work capacity evaluation.


The FCE test procedure includes completion of written questionnaires, an interview, and participation in physical activities and work simulation activities. Tests are administered using standardized protocols and procedures. Specific elements of physical capacity are determined in categories such as strength capacity (lifting, carrying, pushing/pulling), upper limb capacity (reaching, hand grip strength), hand dexterity, lower limb function (balance, crouch/kneel/squat tests), mobility (walking, stair climbing), and tolerance for static postures (sitting, standing). Testing is typically completed in one day over a 7-8 hour period.

A distinguishing feature of the FCE as a health examination is that it allows for a determination of response to repeated activity, prolonged static postures, and sustained activity over a period of time.


Key elements of the FCE are the determination of the level of physical effort produced by the examinee and the analysis of the examinee’s reliability in reporting pain and disability.

At the conclusion of the assessment the evaluator provides a comprehensive report documenting the findings and observations, the examinee’s subjective reports, and an analysis of the examinee’s abilities and limitations pertaining to work, household, and leisure activities.


Our Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists adopt the philosophy of a ‘Best Practices’ approach to testing. The evaluator utilizes an accepted hierarchy of practice with safety as the primary concern, followed by reliability, validity, practicality, and utility.

The Functional Capacity Evaluation identifies the following:

  • The examinee’s ability to safely and durably return to work at his or her pre-injury occupation or aspired occupation;

  • The examinee’s functional abilities and limitations pertaining to work, household, and recreational activities;

  • The examinee’s level of effort demonstrated during the assessment and the accuracy of subjective reports of pain and associated disability as compared to objective test findings;

  • Recommendations for assisting with return to gainful employment and rehabilitation recommendations if indicated.

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