When I started my research establishing the reliability and validity of Physical Abilities Testing (also known as Functional Capacity Evaluation – FCE) over 30 years ago, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, little did I know that years later, I’d be training clinicians internationally and running a company that provides injury prevention for large national and international employers.
All I knew, at the time, was that the existing testing protocols for evaluating the physical abilities of injured workers were subjective and unreliable. And for me, that was unacceptable.
I spent two and a half years developing the test and another two and a half years validating it. Once the research was completed, it was published in the international Journal of Occupational Medicine. And as the principal investigator on the project, I had the opportunity to commercialize the test. Thus, ErgoScience, Inc. was founded in 1992.
For the first 10 years, we focused on training and providing software for physical and occupational therapists, helping them conduct Physical Abilities or Functional Capacity Testing. Two years after our founding, we gained international clients in Canada and Australia – clinicians who had read our research and were seeking the only validated FCE. Currently, we have over 2000 clinics providing testing for us and we’ve trained over 15,000 clinicians throughout the world.
In addition to the testing, ErgoScience has developed a patented process and software for analyzing the physical requirements of work. The reports from these analyses describe, in detail, the physical demands of the job – something lacking in most job descriptions. Used together, employee testing and job analysis are used to match workers’ abilities to the physical requirements of the work – which in turn, dramatically reduces work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
After building our clinic network, disability insurance carriers began requesting ErgoScience testing to help them determine whether their claimants were physically disabled. And employers began requesting the ErgoScience pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing to determine if job applicants were capable of performing their jobs. Thus, two new divisions of ErgoScience were formed: Employer Services and Insurance Services.
Along the way, we expanded our employer services to include Ergonomic Assessment and Training and OSHA-Compliant Early Intervention – think first aid for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Recently, we’ve added new technological advances to our services – ComputerVision AI and ErgoTrainTM wearable sensors, making what we deliver more objective and efficient.
I like to say, “It’s been an interesting journey…” because it has been and will be for many years to come! I see only great things for the future of ErgoScience.