After Hip Replacement Surgery, "Video Game" Tests Driving Skills

The Brooklyn Spectator—January 9, 2012

After hip replacement surgery, many patients are anxious to resume driving, and a new study seeks to find out when it would be safe for them to get back behind the wheel.

"One of the most common questions patients ask after hip replacement is when they can start driving again, and we really don't have a good answer," said Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, co-director of joint replacement research at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, who is using a computerized driving simulator to test driving reaction time after the surgery. "Our study seeks to obtain good, objective data to determine if it would be safe for people to return to driving sooner."

Patricia Lynch, a nurse from Bay Ridge, was happy to participate after hip replacement. "As a nurse, I believe in evidence-based practice and feel doctors should know and study things in order to make the right recommendations to patients."

Right before the operation and then just two weeks after Westrich performed a minimally invasive hip replacement, Lynch took the driving simulator test.

Patients participating in the study take the driving test prior to having surgery. They are then randomly selected to repeat the test two, three or four weeks after hip replacement. At the end of the study, researchers will analyze the findings to determine if it is feasible for patients to resume driving earlier than current recommendations.

In addition to determining when it is safe for patients to resume driving, the study will attempt to learn how age affects reaction time after hip replacement and if there is a difference in reaction time between men and women.

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