Functional capacity evaluation & disability

Iowa Orthop J. 2007;27:121-7.


Function, Impairment, and Disability are words in which many physicians have little interest. Most physicians are trained to deal with structure and physiology and not function and disability. The purpose of this article is to address some of the common questions that many physicians have with the use of functional capacity evaluation and disability and also to provide a unifying model that can explain the medical and societal variables in predicting disability. We will first define the functional capacity evaluation (FCE) and explore the different types available as well as their uses. We will review several studies exploring the validity and reliability of the FCE on healthy and chronic pain patients. We will examine the few studies that look into whether an FCE is predictive of return to work and whether an FCE is predictive of disability. In the second half of this article, we will focus on the Assessment of Disability from the origins of the United States Social Security Administration to a bold new concept, the World Health Organization's International Classification of Function, Disability and Health.

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / rehabilitation
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Sociology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation