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Why Did My Doctor Order A Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Alabama Workers Compensation AttorneysAfter a serious work-related injury, you may have many issues and questions. Medical appointments! Case nurses! Missed work! You just want to heal quickly but the process seems so slow! Suddenly, you are endlessly waiting on doctors and adjusters. Although you are the person hurting, you may be at the mercy of other people to schedule appointments.

You may be worried about keeping your job. You may be worried about getting the medical care you need. You may be worried that your pain will never end. The entire process can be frustrating. I understand. I’ve counseled clients in this situation for over two decades. I’ve written numerous blog posts on these topics hoping to answer many of your questions.

One topic of frequent questions — The Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). Most people have never even heard of an FCE until suffering a personal injury. I’ve used FCEs in Alabama car accident cases as well as work comp cases. I’ve advised many, many clients on these tests.

Today, I’ll talk briefly about FCEs in terms of Alabama workers compensation cases. This test is most frequently used in workers’ compensation claims. I’ll try to answer several of the biggest FCE questions.

When Will The Medical Providers Start Talking About A FCE?

At the Blackwell Law Firm, we constantly communicate with our clients. This constant communication is especially important during the medical treatment process. Because we constantly communicate with clients, we prepare them for likely FCE testing.

If you are injured, your doctor is not likely to mention a FCE during the early stages of treatment. Nobody is likely to mention this testing at that point. When will you hear about FCE testing? Most often, you will only hear about FCE testing as you approach what is called “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. This is the date when the doctor concludes that he or she has helped you reach your maximum recovery. MMI may does not always mean you are healed. It just means you are unlikely to experience any significant additional healing.

The doctors can only utilize a FCE when you have reached your maximum recovery. So, you will likely hear a nurse, case worker or doctor, mention a FCE as you approach your MMI date.

What Is A FCE? What Should I Expect During The Test?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation is intended to test your capabilities for work and other activities. How much can you lift with your injury? How much can you carry with your injury? How long can you walk, or stand, or sit, with your injury?

Typically, a physical therapist or occupational therapist will conduct the FCE. They are usually conducted at a physical therapy office specially outfitted with weights or other equipment.

A FCE is only as good as they therapist and the system utilized. I’ve studied FCE processes and systems for years. Some are very biased. The biased ones are used by insurance companies and distort the findings and reach extreme conclusions. Those biased tests are likely to conclude you either didn’t try or you can perform heavy lifting despite serious injury. Biased. Extreme and unreliable results. The insurance companies use biased tests to defeat your personal injury claim. For that reason, you need to consult experienced counsel if you have a serious injury or disability. When conducted by an honest therapist performing a reasonable test, a FCE can be a valuable tool for the doctor to assign permanent restrictions following an injury.

What should you expect during the test? You should expect the therapist to ask you to lift objects, carry objects, walk, stand, climb stairs, and perform a variety of other physical activities. In my conversations with our clients, I go through the tests in details, so the client is fully prepared.

Why Is A FCE Important In My Alabama Workers’ Compensation Case?

Why is the test important? After completing the test, the therapist will likely prepare a report and send it to the treating doctor. Your doctor may then use the report to set permanent restrictions for you. Those restrictions are important in determining the level of impairment or disability in your claim.

If you take a biased test by pro-insurance therapist, the results will not be accurate. They will likely be skewed, either attacking your credibility or minimizing your true disability. That’s why it’s so important to take FCEs seriously — Talk to your doctor. Make sure you are going to an honest therapist. Consult your legal counsel for answers.