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Driving & A TKR

Truthfully, I am getting nervous about some comments that have been put on this blog about wanting recommendations for driving after a tkr. I have written other posts about driving, but need to write more now in order to clarify.

Please remember, everyone is different. What may work for me, or someone else, may not work for you. This is a form of liability waiver, but must be mentioned. There are time frames put into place by the medical profession regarding post-tkr activities. There is a reason for that.

For instance, the medical profession recommends not driving for six weeks after a tkr. I find this totally understandable. Here’s why…

At six weeks post-tkr, my leg was still not functional enough to handle an accelerator efficiently and safely. I could not have quickly moved my leg from the accelerator to the brake in a manner required for effective driving. My quadriceps were not strong enough at that point to move my leg. My reflexes were definitely not fast enough to handle driving.

My tkr was on my left knee. I definitely could not have driven a clutch before six weeks. I could not have pulled my leg up and down as needed to drive a clutch. My leg was difficult to get in and out of a car without experiencing pain. The flexibility was poor.

What I am basically trying to say is….before actually driving your car post-tkr, practice the maneuvers. Turn it into a therapy session, if you will. Get in and out of your car. Get yourself into the driving seat. These movements alone will require intense fortitude (if you are like me). Place your tkr leg into a comfortable position.

If your tkr leg is the left one, you will probably need a pillow or support of some kind. If you drive a clutch, practice using the pedal. Push your seat backwards. Pretend you are using your clutch. (It is much easier said than done. Driving a clutch requires strong leg muscles). You must perform this maneuver in an efficient and safe manner prior to actually driving. In my case, this maneuver took me about six weeks post-tkr.

If your tkr leg is your right one, here are some suggestions. Without starting your car, practice using the accelerator (this is far more difficult than it sounds here). Push your seat back so that your foot is not on the accelerator. While in this position, move your foot up and down as if it is on the accelerator. This maneuver will be the equivalent of ankle pumps. Now, multiply this maneuver by 100 times. I say this because when you are actually driving, you will not have time to think about using your accelerator. It becomes an automatic movement. Do not take this for granted, if you value your safety.

Practice, practice, practice before actually getting behind the wheel of your car after your tkr. Your car is a legal weapon, not a toy. Be safe, not hurried. It’s totally understandable to want to become independent. Just don’t do it at the expense of your proper recuperation. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but other drivers.

Please place safety first.

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One Response

  1. Haven’t been on for several months but this one I feel the need to respond to. EVERYONE who has tkr is different when it comes to driving. I had a thr in March 2008 and a tkr in July 2008. I don’t think I could drive after having thr for at least 2 months. It was on my right side. My tkr was on my left side. I drove after about three weeks after my replacement; my car is not a stick shift. I drove myself to physical therapy, but I was the exception. I was up and walking with the walker the day after my replacement but didn’t quit using a cane for about 6 months due to having both hip and knee replacement.
    I also used the electric seat control as a range of motion machine. I would put the seat back as far as possible, bend my knee right up to the seat and then using the seat control, put the seat as far forward as I could handle without moving my foot. pause the controller and keep my leg in that position until I couldn’t handle the pain any more and then would move the seat back and straighten my leg, and start all over again. It worked remarkably well.
    I am now at almost 18 months since the tkr, can walk up and down stair without holding onto the railing while carrying things. Find that walking is absolutely no problem unless I am extremely tired. I do take advantage of certain amenities, such as, wheel chair assistance when flying through large airports. If you visit my blog you will see what I mean.
    Like all things it just takes time, you will be fine in no time, dancing and doing all the things you love to do!

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