The Benefits of a Quality Functional Capacity Evaluation

jobsim bucketBy Joseph Castronovo, DPT, MTC Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, LLC

In recent months, I have participated in multiple conversations regarding Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) and how the results have weakened the defense’s case. Several defense attorneys have suggested that a FCE generally causes further problems in litigation, and they prefer to work with just the physical therapy notes and reports. Often, they feel the patient performs at a lower level during the FCE than they do in therapy, and yet the test comes out valid. As a seasoned physical therapist and a veteran of over 500 FCEs, I concur with this observation. In my capacity as an expert witness, I have seen first hand how a subpar FCE has labeled a capable human being, who can cast a fishing pole and launch his boat, to total and permanent disability and entitled to a lifelong pension.  However, a quality FCE can be beneficial to all parties. So, what to look for when finding a quality FCE and when should a client be referred for a FCE?

First, a FCE is needed to determine a person’s ability to work safely, however, all WC injuries do not need to be referred for a FCE. I agree with the notion that the physical therapist’s notes throughout therapy and work conditioning are generally sufficient to determine a person’s work ability. However, there are several additional factors to consider. The longer a person has been off work, the more likely they will need a FCE to determine function, due to “deconditioning syndrome.” Deconditioning syndrome according to Mayer and Gatchel in Functional Restoration For Spinal Disorders” represents the loss of physical capacity attendant upon disuse that leads to many manifestations of chronic disability.” In essence, the longer the time of disability and the more extensive the surgical procedure, the greater the postoperative physical capacity deficits that need to be addressed as part of the recovery process. Thereby, a therapist is no longer simply addressing deficits in a knee, for example, but dealing with multiple issues from disuse. If a therapist has a prescription for a knee, documentation will be mainly on the knee, and will not address all of the physical deficits needed for work duty.

Read more: The Benefits of a Quality Functional Capacity Evaluation

JTECH Product Evolution and Support

In 1996, JTECH developed one of the first computerized wired functional assessment systems, called Tracker™. Tracker quickly became an industry leading product and can still be found in use in many practices. In 2004, JTECH introduced the first fully wireless functional assessment system called Tracker Freedom®, making tethered testing a thing of the past. In 2008, JTECH improved upon the Tracker Freedom system and released fully integrated wireless testing devices by miniaturizing the circuitry and moving the antennas inside the devices.

Read more: JTECH Product Evolution and Support

Release of Tracker Version 5.0.45

JTECH Medical Is pleased to announce the release of Tracker Version 5.0.45 (May 14, 2014). A change log of new features and updates can be found below.

New Features

  • Added IsoTrack tests to the Reliability of Effort section of Analyze Data


  • Updated the installer program to install the “Sample Database” to a public location as default
  • Updated some Goniometry ROM tests to correctly record Lag
  • Updated the Zero Calibration form to show the correct “Normal Values” gain range for the Goniometer
  • Updated the Narrative Creation area to correctly update when adding new Custom Narrative Items
  • Updated the looks of the installed weblinks
  • Updated the Dexterity Narrative report to match the data shown in the test selection form and correctly print when it’s part of a larger report.


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