Following a work injury, when you have completed most of your treatment and your physician has placed you at MMI (maximum medical improvement) an FCE may be ordered to determine if you are physically able to return to employment, and the work functions that are safe for you to perform. The FCE is an exam that consists of a series of physical tests administered by a medical professional, often a physical therapist. The FCE evaluator will submit a written report to your physician for endorsement, and will assign to you a physical demand level of sedentary, light, medium, heavy, very heavy, or somewhere in between. Your physician will use this report to determine any permanent restrictions, such as how much you can lift. The FCE is an important milestone in your workers’ compensation claim. Please note the following suggestions:
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
You will be put through a variety of physical tasks, so dress as though you were going to physical therapy or the gym. You may wish to dress in layers in case you become too warm or cold.
- You may want to ask someone for a ride to and from the FCE
The FCE usually takes a few hours. It is possible that you may be sore or tired following the evaluation, so a ride may be helpful.
- Give good effort
Try to complete each test to the best of your ability within your pain tolerance. Consistent effort is an important component in the scoring of the FCE. Your test will be considered valid or invalid based on your motivation and exertion.
- Let the FCE evaluator know if anything is bothering you
If you experience pain or extreme fatigue, let the evaluator know. Also let the evaluator know if you need a break for any reason.
- If you experience a significant increase in your symptoms in the days following your FCE, let your physician and the evaluator know
It is normal to feel some soreness, but you should not have an increase in pain or any new symptoms.
- Speak with your attorney before and after your FCE
It is important for your attorney to know the date and location of your FCE. The results of your FCE may lead to vocational rehabilitation or settlement of your claim. If the FCE is not in your favor, your attorney can speak with your physician about a report to refute any negative impact on your claim.