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Orthopedics. 2013 Jun;36(6):469-74. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20130523-08.

Driving after orthopedic surgery.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Rd, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


As a result of reading this article, physicians should be able to: (1) Identify preoperative factors that may contribute to a patient's ability to return to driving after orthopedic surgery. (2) Understand the role of upper-extremity immobilization and how it may impair a patient's ability to operate a motor vehicle. (3) Recognize how various forms of lower-extremity immobilization (e.g., controlled ankle-motion boot, cast, and Aircast Walker) affect braking reaction times and total braking times. (4) Be aware of current guidelines about when it is appropriate to return to driving following arthroscopy, lower-extremity fracture, and hip and knee arthroplasty. Few guidelines are available to assist orthopedic surgeons in advising patients about when to return to driving after orthopedic surgery. A patient's surgical procedure, postoperative weight-bearing restrictions, immobilization, and other factors influence a patient's ability to drive after orthopedic surgery. Multiple studies have used driving simulators to predict when it may be safe to return to driving after orthopedic surgery. However, study conclusions and recommendations vary significantly. This article reviews the factors contributing to a patient's ability to return to driving after orthopedic surgery and reviews recommendations based on the available literature following fracture, arthroscopy, and arthroplasty.

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