Functional Capacity Evaluation

A functional capacity evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of a person's ability to conduct activities of daily living and/or work. This standardized system is most frequently used to assess work-related injuries and helps determine the level of disability, rehabilitation needs and when the individual can return to normal activity or work.

This physical assessment includes:

  • Strength activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling
  • Position tolerance activities such as standing or sitting
  • Mobility activities such as walking or climbing

A functional capacity evaluation documents specific measures for balance, coordination, cardiovascular conditioning, body mechanics, strength, flexibility and pain.

The seriousness of a fracture depends upon the person’s age and the location and nature of the fracture. In many cases, the break does damage to the surrounding soft tissue as well as the bone. It is critical to get the bone back into its proper alignment as quickly as possible, so you should always seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you have a fracture.

When a fracture first occurs, the broken bone should be immobilized from an area above to an area below the break, if needed using a splint or sling. Apply ice to limit pain and swelling and seek immediate medical attention. X-rays will be used to help diagnose the fracture and determine the best treatment for your specific condition.

Treatment for a fracture usually entails a period of immobilization via a splint or cast. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to realign the bone. In these cases, it is common for pins, rods, screws or plates to be used to help keep the bone in its proper position.

Rehabilitation through physical therapy is an important part of healing from a fracture. Depending on the location and severity of the break, a short period of rest and immobilization is followed by a period of light movement and exercise using the surrounding muscle and tissue to strengthen the bone and prevent stiffness. The physical therapy treatment plan will likely include at-home exercises to ensure that the individual can conduct activities of daily living and to keep all body parts fully functioning. Over time, the exercises are escalated to include more strengthening and resistance exercises to regain range of motion and rebuild muscle strength.

In cases of stress fractures, the combination of rest and rehabilitation are coupled with education to teach the person basic body mechanics and ways to prevent future injury.


A dislocation, also known as luxation, can be difficult to distinguish from a fracture because the initial symptoms appear to be the same. With dislocations, instead of a bone breaking, the bones in a joint separate, moving out of their natural position. A dislocation often impacts the surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles. They can be very painful and are frequently seen in people who play contact sports.

Dislocations are predominantly caused by a trauma, fall or blow. In some cases, they can be caused by disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They most commonly occur in the shoulder or hands, but also happen in the hip, knee, elbow, ankle, fingers and toes. Symptoms includes intense pain, swelling and bruising, limited movement and a joint that is visibly out of place.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention for a joint dislocation. It is also important not to move the joint from its dislocated position. The joint should be immobilized with a splint or sling and ice can be applied to reduce swelling. Do not under any circumstances attempt to move the joint back into its proper position.

At the medical facility, a physician will perform some maneuvers to move the joint back into its proper position. In some cases, the dislocation damages the surrounding ligaments, blood vessels or nerves and may require surgery.

Rehabilitation is longer for dislocations than for fracture. Generally, the first several weeks the joint is immobilized. Then rehabilitation begins to restore range of motion and rebuild joint strength and stability. The physical therapist will slowly progress to more resistance exercises to regain normal joint strength.