by Amy Pagani
RALEIGH, NC – When an individual reaches maximum medical improvement, they typically undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation or an FCE. This evaluation is immensely important in reducing indemnity costs, settlement, and determining how much the injury will impact a worker’s ability to perform the duties of their job, if at all.
The most common method of FCE (measuring lifting ability) is called the Blankenship Method and involves a box with a labeled weight inside and a series of computerized testing for grip and pinch strength. Unfortunately, this method provides opportunity for minimal effort to be given during the evaluation. If the participant is aware of the heaviness of the weight they are picking up, the results could be skewed, and they may be inclined to self-limit due to uncontrollable factors such as fear.
A more accurate measurement of physical function and validity of effort can be found in a method known as the Cross Reference Testing System or XRTS. This method involves a lever system, unmarked weights, and repeated measures. This blind testing method encourages maximum effort from the participant and eliminates evaluator bias through the use of analytical scoring. Additionally, it allows the injured worker to lift what they can without the added fear of a weight being heavier than they are mentally comfortable with. They are encouraged and permitted to not lift something if they cannot lift that weight just as they are instructed to limit their exertions if there is pain associated with the activity.
It is recommended that adjusters use the XRTS method of FCE first. This will be a more accurate method all around whether or not the Plaintiff seems untrustworthy. With a reliable and trustworthy Plaintiff this will provide more solid scientific data to support the restrictions provided and remove the potential for unconscious self-limiting behaviors. The XRTS establishes the validity of Plaintiff’s limits and helps to solve a case with accurate data. This method will encourage the Plaintiff to simply do their best and the data will support what that level of work restrictions should be.