General Description of Functional Testing Service Offerings – Functional testing is rapidly becoming a standard part of the hiring, wellness and return to work process in many companies. In the simplest terms, a functional test is a clinical exam typically made up of at least the following components: a clinical history, a clinical exam, and specific functional tests such as, lifting, carrying, reaching, pushing and pulling. It is essential that these functional tests comply with all federal, state and local employment laws and that the functional tests are based upon “essential job tasks.” HCE contracts with employers and payers to perform various types of functional tests, such as “physical agility,” “comprehensive post-offer, pre-placement,” “fit-for-work & life,” and “return-to-work” tests. HCE executes legal contracts with, and provides training and oversight for, approved physical rehabilitation providers geographically close to each HCE client for the performance of these functional tests. A brief description of each type of functional test covered by the HCE Functional Testing Program is included below.
Physical Agility Testing – This type of testing is allowed for by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and can be used to determine if an individual is physically capable of performing at a high enough physical level to perform the job they have applied for. This test is typically used by employers that are hiring “short-term” workers for a specific project or job. An example would be the construction of a new store in a given geographical region. The test is performed under the supervision of a licensed physical or occupational therapist and will include at least the following: a brief medical history, a brief musculoskeletal exam, including general ROM, gross strength, general flexibility, etc., and some simple lift testing to determine if minimal job requirements are met.
Comprehensive Post-Offer, Pre-Placement Evaluations – This ADA compliant evaluation is valid, job-specific and determines the prospective employee’s ability to perform the essential job functions safely and effectively. This comprehensive functional test is typically used by employers that are looking to hire long-term employees. The HCE protocol also records baseline musculoskeletal and cardiovascular data on each employee, recording any preexisting impairments (scars, limited ROM, poor strength, etc.). Therefore, the employer can determine if any impairment noted after an injury was pre-existing or caused by the injury.
Baseline data on pre-injury range of motion, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and strength can be used as barometers to determine at what point in a rehabilitation program an injured worker can return safely to work, if any reasonable accommodations are needed and/or if a “recovery” is available from a given State’s Second Injury Fund.
The HCE evaluation protocol is based on functional job descriptions provided by the employer and/or validated by HCE staff. If the employer lacks the critical information related to the physical demands of any “essential tasks,” then HCE personnel will conduct a physical demand validation to provide this information for inclusion in existing job descriptions or create new functional job descriptions altogether.
This type of functional test, performed according to the HCE testing protocol, has helped HCE employer clients to reduce serious injuries by determining if an employee can perform the job that he/she was hired for, in a safe and efficient manner. Since the screening will also establish baseline data on pre-injury functional status and impairment for each employee, the employer has an effective defensive hiring technique that can significantly reduce costs related to disability claims and litigation. The additional data collected during the evaluation can be used in employer safety and/or wellness programs.
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Fitness-For-Work & Life Evaluations – This test is exactly the same as the comprehensive pre-placement, post-offer evaluation described above, plus it includes several baseline fitness tests (YMCA step test, BMI, push-ups, curls, etc.). This test is performed on an existing employee, typically in a voluntary & confidential manner. After the data from the evaluation has been analyzed, the individual will receive a personal “report card,” educational material and a job specific, individualized exercise prescription. There will be a one-on-one session with a physical/occupational therapists or exercise specialist to go over this material and teach the exercise program. Follow-up sessions and periodic re-evaluations can be arranged. This type of test can be performed as part of the employer’s onsite musculoskeletal program or at your Provider facility.
Return-To-Work Evaluations – The HCE return-to-work test is clinically performed according to the same type of functional testing protocols used in the other HCE functional tests described above. These RTW tests are typically performed at the same HCE Approved Provider that performs the pre-hire testing. The results of the return-to-work functional tests are communicated to HCE. HCE then works with their employer client to determine the appropriate, safe level of work that they employee physically qualifies for. The final decision about actual return to work is up to the employer.
In order to implement the HCE Return-To-Work (RTW) program, each work station or job classification included in the program will be placed into a RTW grid, based upon the functional data available from the employer or gathered by HCE during a physical demand analysis.
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