The first time you get into a car after your hip replacement will probably be as a passenger. Sounds easy enough doesn't it? Just sit back and let someone else do the work. But let's consider the reality. Starting with how to get into the car in the first place!
When travelling by car it is essential that you stick to all the hip precautions given by your surgeon. The most challenging of these will be the rule of 90 - which states that you mustn't close the angle between your body and your leg to less than 90 degrees.
If you think you'll be travelling as a passenger after your operation then I strongly advise you practice getting in and out of a car beforehand. If possible practice in the same or a similar car to the one you'll be driving in. Check the height of the seat and whether there is really enough room for your legs.
If you need to step up any sort of distance to get into a car (as you would with an off-road vehicle or London taxi) then don't attempt to get in the car until your surgeon has told you it is safe as you'll definitely be breaking the rule of 90. The same is true for cars that are two low - usually sports cars - avoid them like the plague. You are putting yourself at risk of dislocating your hip. Very painful!
As a passenger there will always be someone available to help you - the driver. First ask them to push the passenger seat back as far as it will go and put a plastic carrier bag on the seat. The plastic is slippery and will help you twist into position once you've sat down.
Find somewhere safe to store any walking aids you are using.
If the car is parked near the pavement ask the driver to pull out a bit as you need to start the process standing on the road.
Open the door and make sure it is securely open (ask someone to hold it for you). Now turn around so your back is to the car and sit down slowly. Make sure you don't close the angle between your body and operated leg to less than 90 degrees. One way to stop this is to take the weight more on the non-operate leg and keep your operated leg stuck out straight. Hang on to solid bits of the car to lower yourself down (not the door which can swing closed even with someone holding it!).
You should now be seated with your feet outside the car. Shuffle back a bit (towards the driver's side), lean back and then lift your legs in and at the same time turn into position. Your feet should now be in the foot well. Make sure you have enough leg room.
To exit - do everything in reverse - making sure your driver is ready to hand you any walking aids you may be using (again don't use the door for support!)
Another option that can be used with 4 door cars is to completely remove the front passenger seat and sit in the back. This allows ample room for your legs but (in most cars) won't let you tip the seat back at all. Of course you'd only want to do this in a car that you used regularly.
Most of us won't have any say about who drives us about but I'd strongly caution against being driven by anyone who is heavy on the pedals. Every time they hit the gas you get thrown back and when they then stand on the brakes you get jerked forward. The latter is more painful as your weight is pushed down into your leg and hip.
More painful still is the driver who doesn't feel they should slow down for speed humps (sleeping policeman). They've got a steering wheel to hang onto which stops them bouncing off the seat and hitting the ceiling - you haven't and the subsequent landing can be painful and dangerous.
Avoid these drivers - its better and safer to stay at home.
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