There are currently no standards or regulations governing when it’s safe to drive after a knee replacement. But researchers reporting in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation found that patients with right-knee replacements using an automatic-transmission driving simulator had 30% slower braking times eight days after surgery compared with presurgery measurements.
Braking times were significantly reduced in the right-knee group for six weeks and reached preoperative levels at 12 weeks postsurgery. Braking time was only 2% slower after left-knee replacements, but braking force, a crucial factor in emergency stopping, decreased by 25% to 35% in both groups during the week after surgery.
The authors conclude that, while “categorical statements cannot be provided,” these automatic-transmission findings suggest that “right TKA patients may resume driving six weeks postoperatively.” However, even the presurgery measures of braking time and force that these researchers used may not represent “normal” values because severe osteoarthritis can impair driving skills. And the findings have no bearing on TKA patients who drive manual-transmission cars with clutch pedals.