Not at all! The Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) is an exam where a physical therapist has you do a series of movements and measures your strength and range of motion. This usually means that you have reached a medical plateau and the doctor does not expect any more significant improvement. This DOES NOT mean that your medical care is over. You may still be seeing a doctor for pain control. Based on the Functional Capacity Exam results, the doctor will review the exam results and then determine your new physical abilities for rejoining the work force. Basically, if you need to be on some sort f permanent light duty, this is the test that determines what those limitations will be into the foreseeable future.
After the FCE results are known, this may also determine whether you can return to work for your former employer in your former capacity. Depending on the situation, you may be returning to your employer in a different position than before, you might be looking for work with a new employer that meets your physical abilities, or you may not be able to return to work at all. Another piece of this puzzle is, depending on the situation, you might be working with a vocational rehabilitation counselor assigned by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to try to find you employment within the permanent work restrictions. This might be a good time to start settlement negotiations with the insurance company since you will know your physical capabilities and your medical condition should be stable at that point.
Each situation is unique. This is why I always recommend speaking with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who knows the ins and outs of this tricky process.
If you would like more information on the Virginia workers compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
~ Michele Lewane, Esquire