Bunion Patients Brake Faster Six Weeks After Surgery

Six weeks appears sufficient for return to driving after first metatarsal osteotomy for bunion
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Six weeks after undergoing a unilateral first metatarsal osteotomy for bunion correction, patients showed similar emergency braking times as healthy individuals, suggesting that these patients can resume driving at six weeks, according to research published in the August issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Graeme Holt, of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 28 patients who underwent unilateral first metatarsal osteotomy on the right foot for symptomatic hallux valgus. The researchers assessed the patients' braking times preoperatively, and at two and six weeks postoperatively, on a driving simulator.

Only seven patients were able to complete the test at two weeks due to postoperative pain, the report indicates. All were able to complete the assessment at six weeks. At this point, several measurements -- total brake response time, reaction time, and brake time -- were significantly lower than the preoperative values.

"In view of the improvement in the total brake response time by six weeks after surgery, the question arises as to whether one may return to driving sooner than six weeks. While we cannot specifically answer that question, it is clear that performing an emergency stop maneuver involves placing a substantial amount of force through the forefoot in order to rapidly depress the brake pedal. It is our opinion that waiting six weeks is sensible in that it allows a sufficient period of time for the osteotomy to heal and sustain that type of force without displacement," the authors write.

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