After an injury in D.C. when I was hurt on the job, the workers comp adjuster scheduled an FCE or functional capacity evaluation. What is an FCE?

After an on the job injury in D.C., many times the workers compensation insurance adjuster or nurse case manager will schedule the injured worker for a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE.

This is basically a test used to clarify the injured worker's limitations or work restrictions.  Sometimes a treating physician or IME doctor will recommend it.

Usually the test lasts for several hours and consists of lifting, moving, walking up stairs - somewhat like work hardening or certain types of physical therapy.  It is usually done under the direction of a physical therapist.

An unbiased physical therapist will accurately record how much or how often the injured worker can lift, carry, or climb stairs or ladders.  As with all things involving workers compensation insurance companies, you have to be careful.  There are certain companies conduction FCEs that market themselves to insurance companies and get all of their business from them.  They are more likely to have physical therapists try to say that the injured worker has "pain behaviors" or "symptom magnification" and attempt to document this on their official looking forms.

These are physical therapists - they can show someone with an injury how to exercise, show them good form, count the reps, etc. but they can't give an opinion as to supposed psychological factors.  Unfortunately, some do, because that's what the workers comp insurance companies pay them for.