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Background: After right total knee arthroplasty (TKA), patients are usually eager to return to driving. Previous studies suggest 6 weeks postsurgery is a safe time. However, recent advances in surgical technique, pain management, and rehabilitation have theoretically improved recovery after TKA.

Questions/purposes: We therefore determined if (1) the timeframe for return to driving, as determined by attainment of preoperative braking levels, would be shorter after contemporary right TKA than that reported previously for a traditional TKA; and (2) gender or age influence recovery of baseline response time.

Methods: Brake response times for all 29 patients undergoing right-sided TKA between January 17, 2008, and January 29, 2009, were scheduled to be measured by a trained occupational therapist before surgery and at 4, 6, and 8 weeks after surgery. For each patient, testing was discontinued once the preoperative level was achieved.

Results: All patients returned to baseline braking levels by 4 weeks after surgery. Gender and age did not influence recovery times.

Conclusions: If other requirements for driving are met, surgeons may consider allowing patients treated with contemporary right TKAs to drive 4 weeks after surgery.

(C) 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.