When is it Safe to Drive after Orthopedic Surgery?

Dr. Geoffrey S. Marecek, MD Department of Orthopaedic Surgery University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine Los Angeles, CAMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Geoffrey S. Marecek, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
Los Angeles, CA
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Marecek:There were several main findings:

1. It is not safe to drive while wearing a sling or splint on the upper extremities
2. It is not safe to drive while wearing a brace, cast, or boot on the lower extremities
3. Braking function does not return to normal for at least 4 weeks after knee arthroscopy, total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA), for 9 weeks after ankle fracture repair, and for 6 weeks after weight bearing begins for a fracture (up to 18 weeks for articular fractures).


MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Marecek: One of the surprising recurring themes was that insurance and law enforcement agencies regard it as the driver’s responsibility alone to determine when he or she is fit to drive – there is no such thing as “clearance” from a surgeon or physician.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Marecek:Driving requires coordination of several different tasks and movements and can be impacted by most orthopaedic injuries or surgeries. It is important to be cautious when resuming driving after any orthopaedic injury and to utilize the available literature to guide one’s decision to get behind the wheel again.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Marecek: Further research is already under way at a number of centers. The use of computer simulators that mimic actual driving, rather than just braking will offer important information about actual driving performance. Also, evaluation after upper extremity surgery will help guide patients who have injuries to these areas.

Citation:

Driving After Orthopaedic Surgery
Geoffrey S. Marecek and Michael F. Schafer
J Am Acad Orthop Surg November 2013 ; 21:696-706.; doi:10.5435/JAAOS-21-11-696