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The Value Of An FCE

When an individual sustains a work related injury, many doctors including orthopedic doctors, neurosurgeons and pain specialists after treatment for the injured worker, has to make a determination about the injured worker's ability to return back to work and whether or not he or she can do that job safely and with little as pain as possible. These doctors are often times concerned about rendering such medical opinions about a person's ability to return back to work or not return back to work in extreme cases, so they have to rely upon other resources in order to assist in making that determination.

A very common way for these doctors to obtain such assistance is by prescribing, for the injured worker, a physical test that is known as a functional capacity evaluation or an FCE. This is a very common and often times used tool by doctors that have provided medical treatment. This test gives the doctors what is supposed to be a very objective conclusion about what a person's physical abilities and or limitations are that may result from a specific injury to their body. The FCE is usually performed over a day or sometimes two days. The test is usually performed at a work rehab facility or a place that does physical therapy. It is usually done by a therapist that is trained in administering these types of tests. The FCE is designed to simulate certain activities that a person may encounter in the workforce or in their work place. It will simulate activities such as lifting, climbing, walking and carrying. The goal of the FCE is to have you perform these various tests and to see what the results of them are to help provide a determination as to what your physical capabilities are as a result of your work injury. It has been my experience that the result of an FCE are often times very favorably looked upon by workers' compensation judges and the Workers' Compensation Commission in the State of Illinois. This can be a very useful tool, not only for your doctor, but also for your attorney and for your case in terms of showing the judge what exactly you have to have in terms of permanent work restrictions that result from an FCE. The most important thing as the injured worker to understand about the FCE process and doing the tests is that one thing that the test taker is looking at is of course trying to determine whether or not you are giving your best effort. It would be very easy for someone to walk into an FCE and not give their best effort that would reflect in very poor results. If that were to be the case, this could have a big impact on your ability to return back to work and what your restrictions may be. So, within the test itself, the test taker or the person administering the test has the ability to sort of double check whether or not you are giving your best effort. The advice that I give to every single client that I represent, that goes and gets an FCE test done, is to make sure that they show and exhibit to the person administering the test that they are giving their best effort. Now it is important to understand that in most situations, your doctor will have provided some parameters or limitations so that you are not over-exerting yourself and causing further injury. No one wants you to obtain further injury as a result of an FCE, but is very important that you give you your best effort and that the person administering the test understands that you gave your best effort so that the test results can be deemed valid. If the test results are not being valid, then the test results can be removed or dismissed by the workers' compensation judge or by the Workers' Compensation Commission. It can leave the injured worker in a position where your doctor may not know whether or not you need permanent work restrictions. Your doctor may not be able to comment on that after the results of an invalid FCE are provided to them which can cause further complications in you trying to establish what you would be entitled to for permanent partial disability, for example, and in some situations permanent total disability. It is also important to know the facility that you are going to have the FCE done at. This can also in my experience affect the potential outcome of an FCE. There are places that I would recommend that you go to and places that I don't recommend that you go to for these types of tests in the future. Fortunately, my office has worked throughout the entire state of Illinois, primarily in the central part of the state, and we have gotten familiar with the medical facilities that offer these types of tests and that perform these types of tests. We can certainly make recommendations to you as to whether or not we agree or disagree with the particular facility and this is a good way to perform an effective FCE on your behalf. It is also important to understand that an FCE is usually prescribed by your treating doctor and you want to avoid situations where workers' compensation is trying to schedule the FCE on your behalf out of fear that the results may be potentially skewed if the workers' compensation gets to control where you attend the FCE and if they get to communicate with the person who administers the FCE test. You must be very cautious and look out for this. If you have been involved in a work accident where you are anticipating that you are going to need permanent work restrictions and your doctor has discussed with you the idea of having an FCE done or if you believe that you need to have that discussion with your doctor and you have further questions about the issues that arise from an FCE that have not been addressed herein, please contact my office. I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss further your options and the best way to go about proceeding with such a test so that we can properly understand, as fairly and as objectively as possible, the permanent work restrictions or limitations that you may have result from a work injury.

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