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Functional capacity evaluations in persons with spinal disorders: predicting poor outcomes on the Functional Assessment Screening Test (FAST).

This study determines how performance on the simple, low exertion Functional Assessment Screening Test (FAST) relates to performance on more extensive physical and psychological testing. One hundred eighty-eight persons with chronic back disability and 17 spine healthy volunteers underwent the FAST (three 2-min static tests [kneeling, stooping, and squatting] and two 5-min tests [repetitive stooping and repetitive twisting while standing]), the Progressive Isoinertial Lifting Evaluation (PILE), trunk extension endurance, submaximal bicycle ergometry, and psychological profiles. All FAST components were completed by 88% of spine healthy subjects, but only by 19.7% (n = 37) of the back patients. Internal consistency for overall test performance was 0.82 (alpha coefficient). Back pain noncompleters had poorer performance on the PILE and trunk extension endurance despite similar cardiovascular fitness and perceived exertion during testing. They had more dysfunctional coping mechanisms, pain avoidance, depression, and self-reported disability. Since performance on nonstrenuous testing is so poor, and psychosocial variables relate strongly to test performance, extensive Functional Capacity Evaluations may not be necessary or valid in assessing the physical performance of this population of chronic back pain patients.

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