For people suffering from hip problems, many don’t consider replacement surgery because of the long-term effects on their life. According to New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyers, because of enhanced surgical, pain management and recovery procedures, patients who have a total hip replacement may be able to drive safely and return to normal activities as early as two weeks post-surgery.
Each year, more than 300,000 patients opt for hip replacement surgery in the U.S. Previous recommendations suggested between six and eight weeks of recuperation before getting behind the wheel. However, recent developments in surgical treatment and care have reduced this time frame.
A briefer driving ban would allow patients to resume daily activities and return to work more quickly.
In a study conducted in November of last year, researchers evaluated nearly 40 patients who underwent total hip replacement between 2013 and 2014. Their driving performance was assessed using the Brake Reaction Test, which measures brake time response following a stimulus.
All patients involved in the study submitted to a preoperative assessment to determine a baseline reaction time, and were then retested at two, four and six weeks post-surgery. Patients were permitted to drive when their reaction time was equal to or less than their reaction time before surgery.
Approximately 87 percent of the patients got to their baseline time within two weeks. The remaining patients reached their baseline at the four-week mark.
Other findings of the study included:
- No differences regarding age, gender, or the use of assisting devices in terms of driving readiness.
- Of the patients who were ready to drive at two weeks, over 70 percent stated that they felt ready to drive while 15 percent were unsure. Alternately, 12 percent of the patients said that they didn’t feel ready to drive.
- Of the patients who returned to driving at four weeks, three reported that they were not able to drive at the two-week mark, and the others thought they were able to drive by two weeks.
According to your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon, brake reaction time went back to baseline or better in the majority of patients undergoing contemporary total hip replacement surgery by two weeks following surgery, and all patients achieved a safe brake reaction time established by nationally recognized guidelines.
These findings have allowed orthopedic surgeons to encourage patients to re-evaluate their driving ability as soon as two weeks after their surgery. However, patients should never drive if they are still taking narcotic pain medication.
If you want to know if you are a candidate for a total hip replacement, contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation.