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Alabama Workers’ Comp Attorneys: What is an FCE?

Alabama Workers Compensation: What is an FCE: If you have suffered a serious job injury to your neck, back, shoulder or hips, or to multiple body parts, most likely towards the end of your medical treatment you will be told that an FCE has been ordered for you. Chances are you have never heard of this term and you are unsure what comes next.

An Functional Capacities Evaluation (FCE) is a physical test whose purpose ostensibly is to determine if you a capable of returning to the job you held at the time of your job injury; if you are not able to do so, the evaluation is supposed to determine what type of work (sedentary, light, medium, heavy or very heavy) you are capable of performing on a full time basis. Functional Capacities Evaluations are to be performed by a physician, occupational therapist or physical therapist. After the evaluation, the results are typically sent to your treating physician, and they may agree and sign off on the restrictions, or the doctor may provide their own physical restrictions.

Being able to pin point what an injured workers’ physical limitations are would be a wonderful aid in determining what type of work an injured workers is limited to performing after recovering from their job injury; unfortunately, to date there is no scientific evidence to support the findings of any type of functional capacities evaluation as to what a worker can do in a full time capacity. Moreover, there are no uniform standards that an FCE must meet, so different tests can give different results.

Often these tests are used in an attempt to determine whether an injured worker is giving their best effort–if they did not, an inference will be pushed by the workers compensation insurance carrier that the injured worker is faking and can do more than the test revealed. This is not a valid inference as the test was never designed to determine why an injured worker self-limited during the examination; most of the time the worker was simply afraid of re-injuring themselves.

So, while a functional capacity evaluation may help the treating physician determine what your permanent physical restrictions should be, they should not be relied on alone. If you have had an FCE performed and you disagree with the findings, or if you have been told a functional capacity evaluation was being ordered and you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced Alabama Workers Compensation attorneys at Powell and Denny.

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Alabama Workers Compensation What is an FCE

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