After total hip replacement surgery, patients are eager to resume the activities of daily life, particularly driving. Most surgeons recommend waiting 6 weeks after surgery to resume driving; however, there is no evidence to indicate that patients cannot resume driving earlier.
Our purpose was to evaluate when in the recovery period following THA that patients regain or improve upon their preoperative braking reaction time, allowing them to safely resume driving.
We measured and compared pre- and postoperative braking reaction times of 90 patients from 3 different surgeons using a Fully Interactive Driving Simulator (Simulator Systems International, Tulsa, OK). We defined a return to safe braking reaction time as a return to a time value that is either equal to or less than the preoperative braking reaction time.
Patients tested at 2 and 3 weeks after surgery had slower braking reaction times than preoperative times by an average of 0.069 and 0.009 s, respectively. At 4 weeks after surgery, however, patients improved their reaction times by 0.035 s (p = 0.0398). In addition, at 2, 3, and 4 weeks postoperatively, the results also demonstrated that patient less than 70 years of age recovered faster.
Based upon the results of this study, most patients should be allowed to return to driving 4 weeks following minimally invasive primary total hip arthroplasty.
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.