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When to Get Back Behind the Wheel While on the Road to Recovery
Date:12/1/2008

Early discussion with your orthopaedic surgeon is the driving force for a safe return to the roadways

ROSEMONT, Ill., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While many patients recovering from orthopaedic surgery or any musculoskeletal injury may be anxious to get back into their old routines, knowing when it's safe to get behind the wheel of a car can be a difficult and complex decision to make. A discussion of the concerns of orthopaedic surgeons and patients alike, published in the December 2008 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (http://www.ejbjs.org), indicates that return-to-driving recommendations often vary.

"Deciding when a patient can return to driving is a difficult decision that may require information that is beyond what is commonly available to the treating physician," says Edward Rodriquez, MD, Ph.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and instructor at Harvard University's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Driving is a multi-system task, and although we, as orthopaedic surgeons, may be able to tell when a limb is strong enough to endure the physical demands of driving, many times there are other concerns that vary from patient to patient.

"At the same time, not being able to drive can result in substantial inconvenience and financial hardship, so patients may be anxious to drive before they are really ready," Dr. Rodriguez adds.

Currently no universally accepted guidelines exist to help determine when a patient is ready to drive after orthopaedic surgery or injury. Physical differences among patients and the extent of their different injuries make the formation of specific policies based on time after injury unlikely, and probably not very useful, Dr. Rodriguez says.

Only 19 states have a readily available testing proc
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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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