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Timely information and insights into the world of evidence-based medicine as it applies to IMEs and other health-related services across Canada. Your feeback and suggestions are welcome.

Functional Abilities Evaluations


Functional Abilities Evaluations (FAEs) offer a process of measuring, recording, and analyzing an individual’s ability to safely perform a number of functions. It is a useful tool in determining an individual’s physical capabilities and restrictions, potential for return to pre-injury employment, housekeeping, and normal life activities.

A FAE is performed by one of several types of Regulated Health Professionals such as a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Occupational Therapist, or Registered Kinesiologist. Prior to completing an evaluation, the assessor would normally request general medical file information as well as any prior Job Site Analysis or Physical Demands Analysis reports.

A typical evaluation takes approximately two to three hours; however, they may be extended for specialized assessments. The evaluation itself is comprised of a variety of components, which have independent and interrelated value in determining an individual’s ability to safely function over the course of a work day.

The evaluation assesses the individual’s flexibility, strength, balance, coordination and body mechanics. This is accomplished through a systematic process of measuring, recording and analyzing the individual’s ability to perform numerous tasks, such as lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying weights, stair climbing, sitting, standing, bending, stooping, crouching, kneeling, reaching, as well as gross and fine motor manipulation.

A critical component of an FAE is measuring consistency and effort. This is gathered using “co-efficient of variation” measurements, which are essentially the degree of timed variation for repeated tests.  For example, an individual is asked to perform a timed test for reaching three times. The speed of the three trials is measured.  If there is a greater than 10% variation between the three trials, it can be concluded that consistent effort was not put forth by the individual.  As a general guideline, if greater than 80% of the evaluee’s repeated tests during an FAE showed co-efficiencies of variance less than 10%, the assessment results are considered valid.  If less than 80% of the evaluee’s repeated tests showed co-efficiencies of variance less than 10%, the assessments results are considered invalid.  However, consideration is given to other factors including completion of all tests, exaggerated body mechanics/effort, appropriate heart rate increases, consistency between formal testing versus observation, and competitive tendencies.

For evaluations addressing return to work capabilities, a comparison of the individual’s recorded abilities with the Physical Demands Analyses or Job Site Analysis are documented and cross-referenced with available clinical examinations or assessments to produce the final report.