When is it safe to drive after an extremity injury? According to a recent article in the New York Times, even when the question is limited to a specific injury such as a broken wrist or sprained ankle, the considered answer from research boils down to a firm "it depends."
NYT reporter Jan Hoffman looked at recent studies of postoperative driving and interviewed several orthopedic surgeons to find out what firm guidelines existed relative to getting back on the road after an injury or surgery. While there were some constants—no driving with a brace on the right leg, no driving if the wrist or elbow is immobilized, for example—there were few hard-and-fast rules, and many complicating factors.
Some of these complicating factors include the kind of car being driven, individual driving habits, and lack of sleep due to pain. Additionally, Hoffman reported that surgeons are sensitive to the potential variations in recovery and often hesitate to make a specific recommendation for fear of legal repercussions should the patient get into an auto accident or aggravate the original injury by driving.
Editor's note: be sure to check out the comments on the article posted by readers, many of whom describe their own experiences with recovery after injury/surgery.
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