What is a PCE?
A Physical Capacity Evaluation (PCE) is an all-encompassing term to describe the physical assessment of an individual's ability to perform work- related activity. It can also be known as a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA), Physical Capacity Assessment or Evaluation (PCA), or Work Capacity Assessment or Evaluation (WCA or WCE). A well-designed PCE should be comprehensive in terms of encompassing the physical demands of work as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT.)1, have standardized instructions and operational definitions, be practical regarding space and length of time for administration, be objective in minimizing examiner bias, and, most importantly, be reliable and valid.2 A PCE must also be administered with care for the patient's safety and well-being, with due diligence to minimize the chance for injury during the course of the evaluation.
There are two types of PCE’s;
- Psychophysiological – Worker is in control and performance is stopped when the worker believes maximum function has been reached.
- Kinesiophysiological – Therapist is in control and tasks are stopped when biomechanical signs of maximal effort are observed. Ensures the safety of the worker as the test is stopped prior to overexertion.
How long does a PCE take?
A typical evaluation is done over one day and lasts 4 hours. It can also be split into a 2-day evaluation.
What does the evaluation include?
There are three main testing approaches to a PCE.
- Isometric – Force is applied to an immovable object.
- Isokinetic/Isoinertial – Measure of muscle group motions produced with restricted movement and stabilization patterns. Emphasis on speed and force.
- Dynamic – Motion is taking place within the muscle and all related joints. No restriction of movement pattern or speed. Can be an exact replica of a functional movement or a simulation of any given activity.
There is standardized testing which addresses; Coordination, Whole Body Range of Motion, Visual-Perceptual and Work Samples.
What is expected of the patient?
- Dressed in proper clothing/footwear for exercise and movement.
- Open communication with the therapists.
- Willing and motivated to participate.
- Arriving on-time for evaluation.
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