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The EPIC Lift Capacity Test (ELC) is an integral part of functional capacity evaluation (FCE). The ELC has been designed to assess the questions:
The ELC test is without peer among tests of lift capacity. It is a six-stage progressive test of lift capacity developed by a team headed by Leonard Matheson, PhD, and is specifically designed to evaluate persons with medical impairments. The ELC test is backed by an ongoing program to develop and provide normative data to set treatment goals and identify full effort. There are more than 1400 ELC-certified evaluators in North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. It is the only test of lift capacity to be awarded a United States Patent (#5,848,594) and is widely accepted in legal and research settings.
The ELC evaluations are performed by certified evaluators on legally approved equipment. This is an important factor that sets the ELC test apart from others. The requirement that professionals become certified on the equipment and its evaluation protocols assures purchasers of ELC services, such as physicians, attorneys, and insurance carriers, that the evaluator will provide a professional level of service. For more information about certification please visit.
The ELC was developed to resolve inconsistencies in earlier tests, such as the WEST Standard Evaluation (WSE) and the Progressive Isoinertial Lift Evaluation (PILE), to take advantage of advances in technology and address professional standards issues. Dr. Vert Mooney and others have been important contributors to the ELC test.
The ELC is a progressive isoinertial test of lift-lower capacity that uses masked free weights to allow retest confirmation of full effort. A series of progressive loads over three vertical ranges at two frequencies is used, and the evaluee’s maximum acceptable weight is recorded at each range. The ELC begins at 10 pounds and progresses in 10-pound increments, using color-coded blind weights. The evaluee is not made aware of the starting and incremental loads. The ELC frequency begins at one lift per cycle for each of the three vertical ranges and proceeds to four lifts per cycle for each range if the evaluee is capable.
Using the WSE test as a comparison, the duration of each test depends on how far the evaluee is able proceed. In a side-to-side comparison with 30 pounds maximum, the WSE requires 24 minutes for a full-range test on an infrequent basis, while the ELC requires 16 minutes. With 80 pounds maximum, the WSE requires 42 minutes for a full-range test on an infrequent basis, while the ELC requires 24 minutes.
In contrast with the PILE, the ELC standardizes weight increments between genders. The PILE’s 5-pound increment for women and 10-pound increment for men has been soundly criticized for the excess work required by women to achieve the same load limit as men and is easily challenged in legal proceedings.
ELC normative data are based on test–retest trials of healthy normal males and females ranging in age from 18 years to 60 years. There are more than 3,000 reference subjects in the ELC’s normative pool, which is updated periodically. Norms are published for males and females of several age groups. Data sets of this quality are extremely difficult to achieve on more than small samples.
A rating of perceived load system was developed especially for the ELC, providing a standardized psychophysiological rating system that has proven to be safe and reliable.
In addition, using heart-rate response limits and gender-height-based biomechanical limits, the ELC is able to provide a heart-rate window within which the test is conducted in order to minimize cardiovascular risk.
There are many peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the ELC’s safe use in populations of persons with physical impairments. For more information please see ELC Research.
The ELC Equipment is available through EpicRehab-approved providers. Below is a list of the items included in the Matheson Integrated Lifting Evaluation System—EPIC Package provided through Roy Matheson and Associates. Other vendors’ packages will vary.
The ELC test is backed by an ongoing active program of research to develop and provide normative data and links to other instruments and activities.
The ELC is the only lift capacity test that offers norms for men and women of various ages based on peer-reviewed published research. No other test comes close. Although the PILE and WEST both offer normative data, the norms are quite limited and have no age grading.
The rigorous methods that EpicRehab has instituted to demonstrate the reliability of the ELC scientifically and to establish the reliability of the certified evaluators allow ELC results to go without serious challenge. If an ELC evaluator goes to court as a witness, the most serious challenge he or she will get is “Are you certified and did you administer the EPIC Lift Capacity in the standard manner?” If you can handle these questions, you will not have any difficulty making your results stand up in court.
Should any problem occur, such as an exacerbation of symptoms, the fact that the certified evaluator has used test procedures that have been demonstrated to be safe in a peer-reviewed scientific journal will provide assurance to the evaluator’s employer and attorney that there was no professional malpractice.
The ELC has been in use in thousands of clinics in the U.S. and Canada since 1994, with no reports of injuries.
The ELC Certification program allows its use by appropriately trained technicians with proper training and supervision. A separate level of certification is available for technicians.
“The EPIC Lift Capacity (ELC) test has been the standard lift test for the Functional Capacity Evaluations of the CBI Health Group (formerly the Canadian Back Institute) since 1993. CBI selected the ELC Training and Certification Program for all of our evaluators throughout Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand because it is rigorous and emphasizes safety.”
Mike AffleckDirector Operations & Business DevelopmentCBI Workplace Solutions
Do not build this equipment yourself or buy it from an unauthorized supplier; we do not support or authorize other suppliers or home-built equipment. The unauthorized builder is assuming a great risk for product liability. It is difficult to standardize equipment over several sites, which would limit the inter-rater reliability that has been established for the ELC test. It is risky for the evaluee in that a fracture in a handle or an unstable shelf can cause injury.
We impose these controls strictly in order to protect the professionals who make the commitment to provide FCE services with integrity.
EpicRehab has a United States patent for the “evaluation of the work capacity of injured people” that covers the ELC. This patent is enforceable in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The only authorized equipment manufacturers are Roy Matheson and Associates and BTE Technologies. Through the equipment manufacturer, ELC test purchasers are provided a site license that allows legal use of the ELC test at their clinic, just as computer software is licensed. These agreements require that all ELC test users become formally trained and certified.
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