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OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE HIP OR KNEE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIRS DRIVING ABILITY

OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE HIP OR KNEE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIRS DRIVING ABILITY

A recent study by Hofmann et al. set out to measure the effect osteoarthritis has on driving ability. Advising patients about when they can drive after surgery is common practice after arthroplasty of the knee or hip. In the literature, the preoperative braking performance values of the patients are frequently taken as the “safe” landmark. Hofmann et al. hypothesised that osteoarthritis (OA), the most frequent reason for arthroplasty, already compromises the ability to perform an emergency stop. A real car cabin was equipped with pressure sensors on the accelerator and brake pedals to measure Reaction Time (RT), Movement Time (MT), Total Break Response Time (TBRT) and maximum Brake Force (BF) under realistic spatial constraints. Patients with OA of the knee or hip were compared with a healthy control group (n = 21). All measured values for TBRT in the control group remained below 600 ms. OA of the right hip or knee significantly prolonged the braking performance (p < 0.001), whereas OA of the left hip did not impair driving ability (TBRT p = 0.228). Intriguingly, OA of the left knee prolonged RT and MT to the same degree as OA on the contralateral side (RT p = 0.001, MT p < 0.001). This study found that depending on the localisation of OA, driving capability can be impaired; OA can significantly increase the total braking distance. To ensure safe traffic participation the safety margin for TBRT should be strictly set, under our experimental conditions, at around 600 ms. Moreover, therapeutic approaches to OA, such as physiotherapy, and patients receiving surgery of the left knee should take into account that left knee OA can also impair driving ability.