FCE and Vocational Analysis

Determining an individual’s vocational capacity following an injury requires a multi-disciplined approach. At Stokes & Associates, we rely on many sources of information in making this determination, including an in-person evaluation, doctor recommendations, and thorough record review. When the records include a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), we are provided with a detailed and reliable description of the individual’s work-related physical capabilities; this information contributes to our ability to successfully match the individual with work he/she can effectively perform in environments he/she can tolerate.

FCEs are comprehensive examinations typically performed by occupational or physical therapists, as these professionals are uniquely qualified to understand the dynamic interactions between the person, the environment, and the occupation. The specific components of the evaluation depends on the purpose of the assessment (i.e., return to work versus determining appropriate treatment course), though it almost always involves a client interview followed by several reliable and valid functional tests, including:

  • Material-handling and strength (i.e., lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling);

  • Positional tolerance and flexibility (i.e., sitting, standing, walking, balancing, kneeling, stooping, reaching, crouching, crawling);

  • Coordination and balance (i.e., right versus left side ability).

An FCE report often describes the individual’s subjectively reported pain levels and objectively witnessed pain behaviors throughout the functional tests. Finally, an FCE report includes information about the individual’s effort and motivation, which is indicative of willingness to return to work and to perform at his/her optimal ability.

As job placement and vocational analysis specialists, we value ecologically valid data regarding an individual’s limitations and abilities. Often times, an FCE is the best predictor of future success in returning to and maintaining work following an injury, as it facilitates matching individuals with job demands suited to his/her range of functioning.

To consult with one of our experts at Stokes & Associates, Inc. about whether you should pursue a FCE for a specific case and/or to get recommendations for evaluators in your area, please call David Barrett at 504-454-5009, visit our website, www.stokes-associates.com or email dbarrett@stokes-associates.com.

Larry S. Stokes, Ph.D.
Aaron Wolfson, Ph.D.
Todd Capielano, M.Ed., LRC, CRC, LPC, CLCP