Background: Patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty (THA) are often advised to avoid driving for 6 weeks postoperation. This is based on patients having to maintain postoperative hip precautions and studies investigating brake reaction time (BRT) following THA using conventional techniques. The aim of this study was to assess patients' ability to drive in the early postoperative period following microinvasive THA by assessing BRT.
Methods: Hundred consecutive patients undergoing SuperPATH® THA in 2015 who drove automobiles preoperatively were included in this prospective cohort study. BRT was measured preoperatively and at day 1 or 2 postoperation using a driving simulator. A subset of 25 consecutive patients had repeat BRT testing at 2 weeks postoperation. Five BRT measures were taken at each time point. Differences in the patient's mean and best BRT at each time point were assessed using the paired t-test.
Results: The study cohort included 50 men and 50 women with mean age 63 years (range 25-86). The mean preoperative BRT was 0.63 s (range 0.43-1.44), with a mean difference of -0.1 s (range -0.57 to 0.33, P < .0001) at day 1 or 2 postoperation. The 2-week mean and best BRTs were also better than paired preoperative readings with a mean improvement of 0.15 s (range -0.78 to -0.004, P < .0001).
Conclusion: BRT reaches preoperative values by day 2 following microinvasive THA. Patients may be suitable to drive earlier than the previously recommended 6 weeks postoperation.
Keywords: automobile driving; brake reaction time; minimally invasive surgical procedures; postoperative period; total hip arthroplasty.
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