A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is an objective measure of an individuals capacity to perform work-specific functional tasks.  An FCE enables assessment of readiness to return to work, proposals of strategies to assist with graduating return to work, evaluate


At the Rehabilitation Specialists we offer a number of FCE options depending on the assessment purpose. In addition to those options outlined below, we can tailor the service to unique circumstance, so please call us to discuss your requirements.

  • FCE Assessments

Standardised FCE:

Using the WorkHab standardised assessment protocol. The assessment can be performed at a workplace testing a combination of structured tests combined with actual workplace based tasks using the tools and equipment required for the job; or in our clinic where we try to simulate the job requirements as best as possible or where there is no specific job and we are establishing an individuals capacity, we will test a range of demands that may include lifting, carrying, postural tolerances (sitting, standing, reaching, etc), dynamic tolerances (walking, stair climbing, crawling, etc)  and pushing/pulling.

Specific functional testing:

This is a shortened version of an FCE that targets up six work related tasks. This approach is ideal to perform at the workplace and can be very useful when wanting to test specific components of the job role to assist in facilitating upgrades. 

Desk based FCE: 

We have designed a desk based FCE that is specifically relevant for individuals working in office based roles. The FCE can be performed at the workplace or in the clinic and tests office based activities. The assessment can incorporate testing for the use of sit/stand desks.

FCE to identify capacity and to suggest ways to modify a role/ introduce assistive equipment, for people with disability:

The Rehabilitation Specialists we are passionate about bridging the gap between workplaces and people with disability. We are able to offer FCE's that can assist to clearly establish capacity (our experienced assessors tailor the FCE depending on individual requirements and goals), and where there are barriers we are able to propose suggested adjustments such as task modification or assistive equipment. This information can then be used by the individual to clearly explain to potential or current employers how a job can be effectively performed. Referrals can be made by employers, people with disability, NDIS plan providers, DES providers or any other sources.

Home/ADL based FCE:

An FCE can be very useful to objectively assess capacity for an individual to undertake activities of daily living. This can be in a pre-vocational context where a return to performance of ADL's needs to occur prior to progression to return to work, or for individuals who may have been in a motor vehicle accident and their pre-disability activities were all related to activities of daily living.

Medico-legal FCE:

A number of our assessors are also able to undertake FCE's for medico legal purposes whether this be a home/ ADL based FCE or a standardised FCE for work related functional tasks.

Workhab defines a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) as “a systematic process of measuring, recording and analysing an individual’s ability to perform purposeful activities in response to broadly defined work demands, activities of daily living or projected vocational demands”. This is the definition of a standardised FCE tool and there are other ways in which FCES can be used to their potential. This includes workplace specific FCEs whereby the workers specific work tasks are assessed for example assessing a bus driver and using a step, rather than the standard step to mimic the work task and test capacity and ability to perform this task. In addition to this, an FCE can also be used in an office based environment, using the same principals the FCE would assess the individual performing tasks such as keyboarding and mouse use.

FCES can be used to demonstrate an individual’s capacity ie to assess whether or not they can perform their required tasks or as a pre-vocational tool ie what skills do they have that could correlate into new workplace. FCEs could be utilised also within the disability sector to outline what an individual is capable of. With assessing an individual’s capacity, the FCE is usually completed when the worker’s treatment has come to a plateau or minimal to no progress has been made to achieve the return to work goal. The results of an FCE can also assist with recommending appropriate treatment programs and guide job seeking within an appropriate role.

What is involved in an FCE would depend on the purpose of the assessment. For workplace specific FCEs the assessor would perform the assessment in the workplace and test specific demands of the functional tasks required. For example if the individual was a disability support worker enabling an immobile client transfer, the assessment would include lifting capacity, use of specialty equipment, turning and assisting with positioning of the client and lowering. If the assessment was on an office worker, the assessor would outline the time requirements of each task ie keyboard use and mouse use and assessing these individually. Within all FCEs there is a standardised protocol which would include hand grip strength and cardiovascular testing.

Within The Rehabilitation Specialists, the use of FCEs have resulted in facilitating correct treatment for example referral to a strength based Exercise Physiology program, discussions with treaters in relation to specific barriers which may have arisen from the assessment. In addition to this TRS have used the outcome of FCE assessments to facilitate upgrades in capacity to pre-injury hours and duties and also to facilitate employment for individuals with disabilities.

Types of Functional Capacity Evaluations we offer:

Specific Functional Testing

We can perform a short version of an FCE testing up to six specific tasks. This can be very useful to assess capacity for upgrades and can easily be performed at workplaces utilising actual tools and equipment required for the job role. 

Functional education can be provided during and post assessment to ensure safe task performance. Often poor posture and the use of compensatory movements impacts on performance so our skilled assessors identify these potential limiting factors and provide feedback to the individuals and their treating physiotherapists and/or exercise physiologists on functional performance. This assists in ensuring tailored treatment programs are provided.

Desk/office based FCE's

Where an individual works in an office based environment, the traditional FCE protocol does not provide a clear correlation between work tasks. At The Rehabilitation Specialists, we have designed a desk/office based FCE that we can tailor depending on the requirements of an individuals role.

Examples of tasks that can be tested including: typing over specific lengths of time (including testing for accuracy, and repeating at intervals during testing), mouse use, walking, carrying items as required in an office based environment, handwriting, phone use, sitting and standing, stair climbing, and writing on a white board.

FCE's to demonstrate capacity for people with disabilities.

  • FCE's can assist to demonstrate what an individual is able to do, to determine if there is a job match, and/pr to determine what reasonable adjustments could be recommended.
  • Referrals can be made for individuals receiving NDIS assistance, DES providers, employers,  and any other party looking to bridge the gap between employers and people with disability.
  • There is scope to use FCE's in innovative ways to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities by clearly demonstrating what their capacity is and what adjustments can be made to overcome any challenges that may present.
  • This is a very tailored service - please contact us to discuss your needs and one of our experienced assessors can work with you to clearly identify goals for the assessment.
  • Wherever possible we try to simulate work environments and/or gain access to workplaces for the purpose of the assessment.

Home based FCE's for testing of Activities of Daily Living (ADL's

These assessments are very useful in the CTP / motor accident space, or as part of a pre-vocational program. The FCE can be performed at an individual's home so that testing uses their own cleaning tools and products. The assessment can also be an opportunity to identify  functional education needs, task modification opportunities, and energy conservation techniques.

The findings can assist with developing a graduated activity plan, providing education on task modification and energy conservation techniques, and to identify where alternative equipment may provide an effective solution to any barriers identified.

Where required, the assessment can incorporate ADL tasks as well as work related tasks, and our experienced assessors are able to work closely with our clients to tailor the assessment to meet specific requirements.

These assessment can also be used for medico-legal purposes to gain a very objective understanding of an individual's capacity to perform their ADL's.

Workplace based FCE's

  • Assessments can be performed at the workplace and are designed to incorporate tasks required for the full job role.
  • Assessing performance of actual work tasks, utilising actual equipment and tools is much more meaningful and accurate as compared to a clinic based assessment.
  • Where a particular task has been identified as an issue, we can design tests that also assess components of the tasks so we can highlight what capacity an individual has. For example, if an individual's role requires stocking shelves, we can test lifting between different height ranges. This then gives very specific capacity at different height ranges which makes it easier for a treating doctor to certify capacity for components of the task rather than specifying no capacity for the task as a whole.
  • Either the full standardised FCE protocol can be used, or the shorter Specific Functional Testing approach can be used for testing of up to six tasks.

At The Rehabilitation Specialists, we use highly trained and Accredited Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, to conduct Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE).

Please contact us on  1800 0 73422  to find out more about FCE's for use in any context. At The Rehabilitation Specialists we are able to adapt our approach depending on the situation, and as a boutique provider, we have the flexibility to be innovative as part of our every day practice. This ensures we can meet the needs of all of our clients by providing a tailored service.


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