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Return to Driving After Hip Arthroscopy

Amit M. Momaya, Despina Stavrinos, Benjamin McManus, Shannon M. Witting, Benton Emblom, Reed Estes

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, Volume 28, No. 3, May 2018

Hip arthroscopy represents one of the most common procedures performed to help alleviate hip pain and improve quality of life. Driving represents one of the most important topics that patients will ask physicians about, especially in the primary care setting after they have been discharged from hospital and are looking to get back to their daily routine. The purpose of this study was to use a modern driving simulator and assess patients’ braking performance after undergoing a right hip arthroscopy.

This prospective study involved 14 patients scheduled to undergo right hip arthroscopy (perfumed by a single surgeon at 1 institution) and a control group (healthy volunteers who denied musculoskeletal problems) of 17 participants to account for a potential learning phenomenon. The two groups did not differ in age, sex, height, weight, and driving experience as measured by years since licensure. The control group did not undergo any type of surgical procedure. All were between the ages of 16 and 60, licensed drivers, and regularly drove using automatic transmission. All participants drove in the simulator initially to establish a baseline, and then at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks post-operatively. The following variables were measured:

  • Initial reaction time (IRT): time between stimulus and initiation of release of accelerator
  • Throttle release time (TRT): time from initiation to full release of foot from accelerator
  • Foot movement time (FMT): time between release of accelerator and initial contact with brake
  • Brake travel time (BTT): time to apply 200N of force from initial brake press
  • Braking reaction time (BRT): the sum of IRT + TRT + FMT
  • Total braking time (TBT): the sum of BRT + BTT

The results of the study revealed that the experimental group exhibited significant improvements in INT, TRT, FMT, and BRT at between the pre-operative and 2 weeks post-operative driving sessions in the simulator, however there was no significant change thereafter. There was no significant change in BTT in the experimental group over the 8-week period. No learning phenomenon was noted in the control group.

This study, which was the first to address driving after hip arthroscopy, suggests that most patients may return to driving at the 2 week mark, as indicated by breaking performance. However, there are several limitations to this study. Perhaps the most obvious limitation is that the participants are operating in a simulation and not in an actual vehicle. In addition, despite the fact that all patients in the experimental arm underwent a hip arthroscopy, the procedures themselves differed with respect to degree of soft tissue and bony surgery. For example, an osteoplasty may affect braking performance significantly more than a simple debridement. The relatively small sample size was a barrier to attempt to look at whether these differences existed. Also, it is important to note that currently, there are no single legally mandated or universally accepted numbers for BRTs. While this study provides some evidence for driving after right hip arthroscopy, it is recommended that primary care physicians, surgeons and patients communicate openly with one another to create individualized timelines for safe return to driving.

Sean Mindra, MD, CCFP

PGY3 – Sport and Exercise Medicine, University of Ottawa

Advisor: Dr. Taryn Taylor BKin, MSc, MD, CCFP (SEM), Dip Sport & Exercise Medicine

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