Functional Capacity Evaluations

What is FCE?

“It is a systematic process of measuring and developing an individual’s capacity to dependably sustain performance in response to broadly defined work demands” (A Systematic Approach to Industrial Rehabilitation, Dr. Leonard Matheson, 1986).


At Kootenay Health Services, FCEs are completed by therapists who have attended a post graduate residency program to become a certified work capacity evaluator (Roy Matheson and Associates).


The benefit of an FCE over a brief functional review is the increased validity of the assessment. The assessor uses objective tests and skilled clinical observation over one-two days to determine the level of effort the worker is providing, as well as the worker’s demonstrated consistency of function and consistency of presentation of symptoms.

FCE Process

Functional information is gathered by assessment with a variety of tests, which are objective and standardized, and most of the tests have normative data for comparison. The therapist develops the flow and the content of the assessment based on the purpose of the assessment (i.e. referral question (s)). Specific functional information obtained in an FCE includes:


  • Strength rating per the NOC/DOT (lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling)
  • Postural tolerances for work (sitting, standing, stooping)
  • Body dexterity (kneel, crouch, crawl, low level work, overhead reaching etc,)
  • Reaching, handling and dexterity tolerances
  • Simulated work situations to mimic the worker’s job demands (i.e. driving, shoveling, clerical tasks)
  • Cardiovascular fitness and endurance for full time work tasks


The worker’s functional profile is then compared to the demands of the specific job. If requested, information to increase function for work tasks is provided such as equipment supports, gradual return to work programs etc.

Specific questions from the fee payer are helpful prior to the FCE.