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A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a detailed examination and evaluation designed to measure a client's safe functional/work abilities. Clients are asked to participate in various physical activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing/pulling, and tolerance for different work positions. The tasks are chosen to allow the client to simulate actual work conditions.

There are primarily three questions that are answered during these evaluations: 1. Did the client provide full effort? 2. Are the client's reports of pain and disability reliable and do they correlate with their demonstrated abilities? 3. Are they able to return to gainful employment, and if so, at what level of physical demand?  Return to work decisions can also be determined using FCE testing.

The equipment used during testing is designed to accurately and reliably document full and less than full performance during testing. The results of the test allow the evaluator to make a clinical judgment regarding the client's safe maximal functional level.