When patients need to return to what they consider to be their “normal life” and activity following orthopaedic injuries or surgery, there is little evidence-based guidelines for such assessment.
Despite potentially impactful financial, medical and legal implications of such decisions, little is standardized to help assist orthopaedists make safe recommendations. Kenneth Taylor, MD, associate professor and chief, hand surgery, Bone and Joint Institute, says, “Orthopaedists routinely make decisions about what activities a patient can safely engage in after an injury or surgery. Questions come up about when he or she can drive, go back to work or return to team sports.” He notes, “Part of the problem is the issue is incredibly broad. It occurs across various orthopaedic issues and touches on many different activities.” In most cases, these decisions involve patients with an upper or lower extremity that has undergone repair; activities include important areas of functioning like driving, work and school. In response, Dr. Taylor is currently developing a research protocol to identify factors that reliably predict a patient’s readiness to return to driving, an issue that impacts nearly all adult patients in the orthopaedic clinic setting. Continue reading