Considered by many to be the gold standard for determining disability, cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) uses objective measures to accurately assess an individual’s capacity for work. It is therefore applicable to any condition where fatigue and reduced physical functioning are significant symptoms. CPET can also assist in diagnosing a variety of medical disorders including chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). The 2 day testing protocol is particularly helpful in documenting post-exertional malaise (PEM) and symptom exacerbation following physical activity. Testing is performed on a stationary bicycle with resistance added incrementally to keep tests approximately 8-12 minutes. It is very rare for a patient not to complete the test. Because CPET results are virtually impossible to fake, they can be a valuable adjunct to any medical and/or legal argument.
Watch a demo of cardiopulmonary exercise testing
For patients interested in scheduling an appointment, please download our information packet and return the completed forms. Payment is also required prior to scheduling and can be processed using our online payment portal.
“The central problem in proving that ME/CFS is an organic medical problem, potentially severe, has been the superficial similarity with laziness, and the lack of easily reproducible medical tests that can consistently demonstrate pathology. In my opinion, perhaps the greatest breakthrough in this area was the two-day exercise test, pioneered by Staci Stevens and co-workers at the Workwell Foundation. The results of this test are indicative of the body’s ability to utilize oxygen, which often falls dramatically on the second day test. These results cannot be seen in psychiatric disease or somatization disorder. It is my hope that someday soon we will understand the pathologic basis for these abnormalities.”
David S. Bell, MD
“Even as a physician, it can be difficult to comprehend the degree and severity of disability that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other fatiguing conditions can cause. With objective measures like evaluation of oxygen consumption, onset of anaerobic threshold and other parameters of cardiovascular response to stress testing, we no longer have to rely solely on subjective symptomatology reported by the patient. Instead, we have standardized studies and classified measures of functional capacity that are recognized by The American Medical Association, American College of Cardiology, the New York Heart Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, and others based on cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Though this type of testing can be performed in many different centers around the country, there are few places that also have the knowledge and understanding of these fatiguing illnesses that have the ability to apply results towards the development of a recovery program, or evaluation of disability. I have known Staci Stevens and collaborated with Workwell Foundation for over ten years, now. If I can’t do it myself, there is nowhere else I would send my patients for this type of testing.”
Laura Black, MD
Hunter Hopkins Center
“We recommend testing for chronic fatigue at Workwell Foundation and have sent numerous patients with symptoms of chronic fatigue to be tested. Their report has helped us formulate better treatment options. We highly recommend their testing for ME/CFS patients.”
Chitra Bhakta, M.D.
OC Integrative Medical Center
Santa Ana, CA
“I refer my clients to Workwell Foundation for physical capacity testing because they use the state of the art testing blessed by the American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association and American College of Chest Physicians, among others. The testing is a good objective measure of limitations in the ability to work. You cannot fake an anaerobic threshold or oxygen use readings.”
Steven P. Krafchick, MPH, JD
Krafchick Law Firm
“I traveled to California from Toronto, Canada to take this test while very ill. From the moment of my first phone call, through the 2-day test, and to receipt of the final report, I was impressed by the professionalism of each person I encountered at Workwell Foundation. They prepared me well to be properly fuelled and rested for the test, and they provided advice for recovery – an important precaution for ME/CFS patients. In addition, Staci Stevens unique therapeutic exercise program – that she communicated to my physical therapist has been valuable guidance and respects my physical limitations. Her recommendation that I wear a heart rate monitor helps me to reduce crashes by signaling that I need to rest when my heart rate is above the limit measured by the CPET, a number that can only be obtained accurately in ME/CFS patients with the 2-day test. I strongly recommend that ME/CFS patients undergo the Stevens protocol to get the hard data, for you, your doctors, your lawyer, your insurance company, and for family and friends.”
“I had been off sick from work for over a year and my sick leave was running out. I had been refused by my disability plan twice on appeal. My final recourse before court was to go in front of an independent review panel and present my case to three doctors for review. I knew I was sick, and came to you for testing. Today the insurance company notified me that based on your report they were reversing their decision and granting me LTD retroactively. The adjuster also mentioned their medical consultant was fascinated and had never seen similar results.”
“The disability evaluation report helped me to win my case with both Social Security and with UNUM. My case was won at the ALJ hearing and the judge dictated…that because of the report and my doctor’s functionality report, I won my case.”