Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

FCEs are intense evaluations that assess a patient's flexibility, strength, endurance, and ability to perform a wide range of functional tasks. They are designed to find the safe limits of a patient's abilities and compare those abilities with the requirements of their job to determine their return to work status.

Patients should wear loose comfortable clothing and sneakers for the FCE as they will be doing a wide range of tasks, including walking, lifting, standing, bending, reaching, etc. The evaluation is comprehensive and may last up to 4-5 hours. FCEs may also be performed during and after the Work Hardening and Work Conditioning programs to determine current abilities and return to work status.

A FCE will assess needs for:

  • Program care for either work hardening or work conditioning
  • Intervention and treatment planning; further PT/OT needs
  • Job Placement following injury or illness
  • Recommendations for work modifications or determination of work ability
  • Useful in return to work/case closure

A FCE is defined as a systematic method of measuring an individual's ability to perform meaningful tasks on a safe and dependable basis. The purpose is to collect information about the functional limitations of a person with medical impairment. A FCE is appropriate for a patient who has been off work with or without restrictions and ready to be released for full duty.

What to Expect

Upon completing a FCE and determining appropriate program care you will begin. A treatment plan is then developed exclusively for you and scheduled out for the duration of your stay. Upon completion of your program an exit FCE is scheduled and a follow-up visit with your physician to determine potential return to work.

Time and Duration of Treatment

Your doctor will prescribe both the frequency and duration of care. Most treatments are 5 days per week, extending over a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Most work hardening sessions will take 7 hours per day and work conditioning sessions 4 to 7 hours per day.


Be prepared to stay for the length of time prescribed for either program to which you are assigned. Work hardening / conditioning commences at 7:30AM. Absences will only be excused if approved by the Programs Coordinator; more than 3 unexcused absences will be regarded as non-compliance and may result in discharge from the program. It is best to wear loose-fitting clothing and as your conditioning improves, you will be encouraged to wear clothing typically worn by you at your place of employment.

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