When your treating physician feels that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) they may send you for a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) to determine your permanent work restrictions.  These are done when your physician recognizes that you have not returned to where you were prior to your work injury, but other than ongoing maintenance care (or perhaps pain management care) no further improvement in your condition is expected in the foreseeable future.

The Functional Capacity Evaluations are typically done in a physical therapist’s office but often take several hours, and measure range of motion, strength, and other physical tests to determine what you are still able to do.  This provides your physician with an objective measurement upon which to base permanent light duty work restrictions.  The FCE results can also be used to calculate a percentage loss of use for permanent impairment ratings.

If you are told to attend a Functional Capacity Evaluation, make sure that it was ordered by your physician and not by the insurance carrier.  These should only ordered by your physician, typically when you have reached maximum medical improvement.  You don’t want a FCE done before your physician has determined you are ready.