Functional Capacity Evaluation

A woman patient undergoing a functional capacity evaluation by a certified physiotherapist.

Functional Capacity Evaluation or Functional Abilities Evaluation


A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is testing performed by a trained and certified health care professional, designed to provide objective information regarding an individual’s physical level of functioning/abilities. At Best Health Physiotherapy, the certification is through Work Well™ and the evaluations are completed by a Physiotherapist.

Who Would Benefit From a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

  • Any individual who has been away from their occupation due to injury, illness (mental or physical), or a leave of absence for any reason.
  • Workers starting a new job or new role within their workplace.
Man carrying work toolbox.

What Can You Expect?

Each evaluation includes a thorough medical history review, an evaluation of spinal and extremity range of motion, strength testing, and monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate. Safety is our number one priority and safety checks are built into the evaluation. Some evaluations can be considered mini-FCEs where only select items are evaluated. Generally a full FCE is a step-wise process that takes place over one or two days, usually lasting four to five hours on day one and one to two hours on day two. The trained examiner will ask the examinee to perform a variety of physical activities that help simulate their regular occupation. Occupation refers to any activity that is an important part of your daily life. Examples could include managing your hobby farm, working a nine to five job, volunteering in the community, etc. Activities include hand dexterity, walking, lifting and carrying to name a few. The results of the evaluation can help to determine readiness for return to work and/or everyday activities.

Why Engage in This Sort of Testing?

Individuals may request testing for themselves to ensure that they are safe to return to their activities of daily living and/or occupation. Results of testing can provide a clear answer to the question “What can I safely do?”.

Sample situations:

  • “I have been recovering from shoulder surgery. The surgeon just discharged me and said I don’t need any more appointments. I’m a contractor and have three different clients asking me if I can rebuild their decks. Is it safe for me to get back to work?”
  • The FCE is requested by a third party such as car insurance, a lawyer, or WSIB, to help determine eligibility for benefits/income replacement/claim entitlement.
  • Employers may request an evaluation to determine if their worker is safe to come back into the workplace or to start in a different position within the company that requires different physical demands than the worker is accustomed to.
  • Additionally, there is a form of testing called a Pre-Offer of Employment Testing (POET), where an employer will hire an individual on the condition that they meet certain physical demands, for example lifting a certain amount of weight, ability to walk distances, etc.
Man having blood pressure taken

How Will I Receive My Results of Testing?

Depending on the referral source for the testing (i.e., self-referral versus a third party) the results will be presented in different ways.

Self-referral: You will be provided with a 1-page summary of the findings, which will be reviewed with you at the end of the assessment.

Third-Party referral: Each referral source has a different reporting template; however, the process is similar. After testing is completed, the assessing therapist will complete a detailed report within 7-10 business days. This report will be sent to the third party from whom you can request your testing results.

FCE at Best Health Physiotherapy

At Best Health Physiotherapy, FCEs are conducted by Kathryn Dunikowski PT, who has many years’ experience conducting FCEs for all referral sources. She completed her training and certification with Work Well™.

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