The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons | 5 Nov 2013
GS Marecek and MF Schafer
The decision to drive after orthopaedic injury or surgery is fraught with legal and safety issues. Although driving is an important part of most patients' lives, there are no well-established guidelines for determining when it is safe to drive after injury or treatment. Typically, impairment in driving ability is measured by changes in the time needed to perform an emergency stop. Braking function returns to normal 4 weeks after knee arthroscopy, 9 weeks after surgical management of ankle fracture, and 6 weeks after the initiation of weight bearing following major lower extremity fracture. Patients may safely drive 4 to 6 weeks after right total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty. Patients should not drive with a cast or brace on the right leg. Upper extremity immobilization may cause significant impairment if the elbow is immobilized; however, simple forearm casts may be permissible.
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