The return to work process of an injured worker is dependent upon matching the physical abilities of the worker with physical demands of work tasks. Functional work movements and tasks are complex. Machines, equipment and isolated musculoskeletal testing have not produced data that is broad enough to project multi-faceted work ability. Functional capacity evaluations, which are sets of dynamic work tests, have seen a growing acceptance because of their whole-worker approach. The basic items of functional evaluations (lifting, carrying, bending, reaching, climbing) are compiled into a comprehensive test which results in information about the whole of work and overall ability of the worker. Projections into an eight-hour day and comparison to physical demands of the job are included in outcome of a functional capacity evaluation. The Kinesiophysical design approach also produces information on safety, compliance, movement characteristics and physical reasons behind work limitations. Utility of functional evaluation is exemplified when employers, and physicians use it as a basis for safe work return of the employee.

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