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Frequently asked questions (FAQ) for FCE Clients

Click on the questions below to find out more.

What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)?

An FCE is an extended examination of your abilities as they relate to performing general or specific work related tasks.

What will I be asked to do during my Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)?

Most FCE’s clients engage in tasks such as:

  • Sitting,
  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Reaching
  • Gripping
  • Pinching
  • Bending
  • Twisting
  • Climbing
  • Squatting
  • Kneeling

Other tasks include completing surveys and questionnaires related to how you are feeling and what you think you are physically able to do at the time. Clients also engage in a screen of their muscles and joints (much like a doctor or physical therapist does on a client’s first visit).

If the evaluator is asked to comment on your ability to perform a specific job you may be asked to engage in work specific job simulation tasks. For example if you were an office worker you may be asked to engage in a seated typing task. If you were a housekeeper you may be asked to run a vacuum. This is a complex evaluation so while many components can be similar from client to client, your situation and injury will require a unique approach.

What else is expected of me other than participating in these physical activities?

You will be expected to:

Provide your best, safe effort
To get the best information about your physical/functional abilities you will be asked to provide your best, safe effort during each task. Your evaluator will speak to you about how you can help provide your best safe effort and should help you make sure

Communicate with your evaluator…please ask questions.
Your evaluator will do there best to prepare you for each task and guide you safely through the evaluation. However, we also need your input in the process. For your best and safest evaluation experience we ask that you communicate any questions or concerns you have with your evaluator as they arise. It is our pleasure to answer your questions, as we believe the best results come when client and evaluator are communicating directly with each other.

Wear appropriate clothing
When you arrive we ask that you be prepared to engage in physical activities by wearing comfortable clothing. Athletic apparel is appropriate as it allows freedom of movement. Tennis shoes or good walking shoes are appropriate. Shoe must be close toed. No sandals, flip-flops or high heels please.

Bring a lunch and snacks
Clients are provided a 30 min. lunch break and other short rest breaks as negotiated with the evaluator. While there are restaurants in the area, it is often difficult to eat and return in the 30 min. allotted for meals. To help with this we ask that you bring a lunch and any snacks you might need. We make available our refrigerator and microwave. We also have a filtered hot/cold water dispenser. We do provide cups, but if you prefer to have your own water bottle please feel free to bring it and fill it up here.

Arrive on time and return on time from breaks
As this is a long evaluation we do our best to make sure that your time is respected. By arriving on time and returning from breaks on time you help us keep on schedule.

Come without children and family
Northwest Return to Work is busy rehabilitation center full of moving exercise equipment, weight machines and clients engaged in complex exercises. While it is a safe environment for adults it was not designed for children and therefore children are not to attend your appointments. Likewise we ask that clients attend evaluations independently unless they require specific accommodation (e.g. an interpreter for language barriers, etc.).

Complete requested follow-up assignments
Upon completion of your assessment you will be provided with information related to next day follow-up. You are expected to call or contact your evaluator if your symptoms change significantly by the next day. We will report any next day changes in symptoms or physical changes in our written evaluation reports. Sometimes this will require a brief follow-up discussion or return visit to the clinic for re-measurement purposes. If you don’t call or follow up with your evaluator he/she will not be able to address these concerns or record them for your record. It will also be assumed that there is nothing significant to report. We appreciate your attention to this point as it provides the best information for your records.

Who works with me during my FCE?

Northwest Return to Work evaluators are licensed physical or occupational therapists specifically trained as work evaluators. We require that the lead evaluator for each evaluation has completed or is process of completing the Certified Work Capacity Evaluator (CWCE) credential. Most evaluators will also have advanced training related to FCE and will have completed training related to lift capacity testing. If you have questions related to your evaluator’s credentials please feel free to ask. We insist on this training in order to ensure the fairest, most comprehensive and defensible evaluation.

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