I have a sit-down job but I'm off work for a second shoulder surgery. The first surgery was to repair a torn rotator cuff. The second surgery was to repair the repair because it didn't hold and I ended up with a retear. It's a worker's comp case so they are telling me I need a functional capacity test before I can go back. Is this really necessary for a desk job?
Each state runs its own Worker's Compensation program. The rules and guidelines vary because of that. Your case manager should be able to help you answer this question. You must be able to show that you have the motion, strength, and function needed to complete all tasks required by your job at your pre-injury level.
A functional capacity evaluation is designed to protect you as well as the company. You don't want to reinjure your shoulder by returning to work before you have completed the rehab process -- especially after two surgeries. The company doesn't want to bear the cost of a worker being out because he or she came back too soon or before being ready physically.
It's really a win-win kind of situation. Worker's comp pays for the test so you aren't out any money. It will require some of your time (anywhere from 1/2 day to a full day). The physical or occupational therapist who conducts the test will gear it to your job requirements, so you shouldn't be asked to do more than you would have to at work. But, again, you will have to contact your local representative to find out if an exception can be made because of your particular situation. If not, it will be an experience that will confirm your ability to return to work safely.
Dana P. Piasecki, MD, et al. Outcomes After Arthroscopic Revision Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. January 2010. Vol. 38. No. 1. Pp. 40-46.
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