Can I Drive If I am Non-Weight Bearing?
- Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice, and it's purely for informational purposes.Always consult with a certified physician before making any decisions regarding your health.
So, you have a lower extremity injury and one that causes you to be non-weight bearing (NWB).
That means you can't stand on your injured leg or put any significant weight through it.
What does that mean for driving? Can I drive if I am non-weight bearing?
That is one of the first questions often asked in a physical therapy setting.
The short answer is no – you can't drive if you are non-weight bearing, even for just a little bit. Here's why:
Being non-weight bearing means you cannot put any weight whatsoever on your injured foot. So constantly moving our foot from the gas to brake pedal breaks this mandate. And will lead to complications to your injury or surgery.
An orthopedic injury may require extensive immobilization, mainly if there has been surgery or a severe fracture. The simple answer as to when it is safe to drive is that it depends on the type of injury and your doctor's recommendations.
So when can you start driving?
When a physician moves you to a partial weight-bearing stage, then the feasibility of driving can be discussed.
Each patient has a different situation, so the answer is specific to what your doctor or physical therapist tells you.
According to Dr. Crichlow, "for lower extremity injuries (pelvis and legs), you can drive once you can walk smoothly with a cane (without a limp). This varies by person and injury."
The length of time that a patient is non-weight bearing can vary from weeks to months.
If driving is unsafe, the physician should be straightforward about the potential risks of driving and provide options for alternative ways to get around or help with everyday tasks.
This honest assessment will ensure that patients receive the necessary assistance and are supported throughout their recovery process. The road to recovery will hopefully lead back behind a steering wheel, but until then, the priority is to heal the injury safely.
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