Occupational Therapist’s Role in Functional Capacity Assessments

Occupational Therapist’s Role in Functional Capacity Assessments

According to the Canadian Survey of Disability (CSD), almost 27% of Canadians, aged 15 or over, live with one or more disabilities that hinder their ability to conduct daily tasks and activities. 


This amounts to a staggering 8 million Canadians, with experts predicting the number to grow even more in the coming years. 


Why is this important and how does it relate to Occupational Therapists and Functional Capacity Assessments (FCD)? Well, to find out you have landed on the right page. 


In this article, we will look at why an individual would need an FCA, and what role occupational therapists play in helping individuals with disabilities live a more productive and independent life.


The Role of Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists specialise in occupational therapy (OT), which transcends conventional medical care, as it focuses on how to improve an individual’s daily living skills through processes that help increase physical and mental strength.


An occupational therapist’s primary role is to conduct a Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA) or a Functional Abilities Evaluation (FAE) to determine the physical, mental, and medical limitations of an individual’s injuries and disabilities. 


How are these injuries or disabilities impacting an individual’s daily life and ability to positively contribute to society? This is the first thing that an OT will seek to answer.


They do this by conducting comprehensive evaluations, which help determine an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks, whether that be at home, work, or in the community. 


These assessments aim to increase independence, especially for individuals who have been diagnosed with a medical condition or disability. 


While conducting an assessment or evaluation an OT will consider physical, medical, and psychosocial factors, as well as an individual’s medical history, to determine how they are impacting the individual’s functioning. 


These assessments can take into account a range of activities and skills, from conducting basic tasks such as personal hygiene and meal preparation to more complex activities such as home maintenance, managing workload, ease of mobility, and more.


Once the assessment is complete, an OT will focus on augmenting abilities to help individuals recover and maintain daily living skills, allowing them to live a more fulfilling life. They can also help instill in them renewed purpose, resilience, self-assurance, and personal satisfaction.


So, in essence, occupational therapy is a person-centred practice, that is all about understanding an individual’s unique challenges and goals. OTs are highly professional healthcare experts who actively help improve daily life skills in individuals allowing them to increase overall life satisfaction both from a personal and professional standpoint. 


An Overview of Functional Capacity Assessments?

An FCA or FCE is a standardised evaluation method that objectively measures an individual’s ability to perform functional and work-related tasks safely and consistently.


The assessment consists of several tests that help determine whether an individual is able to return back to work and if so at what capacity. 


These tests include activities to help determine the lifting, reaching, gripping, carrying, and walking abilities of an individual to ensure they don’t pose a risk to themselves or others in the workplace. 


An FCA or FCE usually takes place in an individual’s home, where an OT can discreetly observe how they are performing daily tasks. 


Based on their observations, the OT will fill out a detailed assessment template that will highlight the individual’s age, medical conditions, and functional skills. 


Preparing this report is essential to develop strategies, methods, and care regimes that help empower individuals to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.


Other Types of Occupational Therapy Assessments 

Apart from an FCE, an OT will also conduct other evaluations such as an Occupational Therapy Assessment that will examine the physical, cognitive, and emotional factors that are impacting an individual’s daily activities. 


They will also likely conduct a mental health assessment to evaluate whether mental health conditions may be impacting daily functioning. 


At Spectrum Therapeutic Solutions, our OTs go even further by conducting a Cognitive Functional Assessment to objectively measure whether an individual is able to meet the cognitive and physical demands of life, including self-care, productivity, and leisure. 


We also conduct a job demand analysis to gauge whether an individual is able to perform all the tasks outlined in their job description. A job site analysis or ergonomic assessment of the workplace is also conducted to identify ways to reduce strain and stress for the individual if they are able to return to work. 


Other assessments conducted include vocational assessments, cost of future care assessments, home assessments, and a functional home maintenance evaluation to ensure a truly comprehensive approach to well-being and an overall transformative therapeutic experience. 


Occupational Therapy Services – Dartmouth, NS

We offer a comprehensive approach to occupational therapy to ensure we create a meaningful and lasting impact. Our therapeutic treatments and assessments can help individuals optimise work performance, strengthen relationships, and help balance work-life demands. 


Book an appointment now to spark the revival of your true self!



Q) Who would benefit from Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is for anyone who is encountering difficulties with conducting daily activities due to physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges. 

Q) How can an FCA or FCE help individuals return to work?

An FCA or FCE assesses an individual’s physical abilities and limitations which is necessary to develop a suitable Return To Work (RTW) plan to ensure continued safety and productivity in work roles.

Q) What happens after an OT assessment is completed?

Once an OT assessment is complete, treatment can begin. Your OT will recommend ways to overcome limitations and live more independently. They will also recommend a care regime to help cater to current and future needs as well as prepare an RTW.  

Q) How do psychological factors influence FCA?

Psychological and social factors are just as important to access as physical factors as they provide a more holistic view of an individual’s ability, limitations, and challenges.

Q) What trends are influencing the future of FCA?

Advancements in technology have made it easier for OTs to assess health and well-being. Integration of technology, focus on client-centered assessments, and the use of telehealth and AI are all notable trends that are influencing the future of FCA.

About Us

Spectrum Therapeutic Solutions was Founded in 1989 as an occupational health service it grew to include therapeutic counselling in 2005.


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