How to Choose the Right Size Wheelchair
If you are in need of a wheelchair and need help choosing the correct size then call us or read below on how you can get correct sizing for your mobility device.
Irrespective of the type of wheelchair one has in mind, it is imperative to ensure you get the right fit. This will go a long way in providing comfort to the user as well as propulsion biomechanics. During the purchase of a wheelchair, one should carefully consider the correct measurements. And even though there is no formula in determining the ‘perfect’ size, by simply evaluating physique and the user’s favorite activities, one can easily derive at the ideal measurements of a correct size wheelchair. To help you make an informed purchase, below are some of the important measurements you should take when choosing a wheelchair.
What Size Wheelchair Should I Get?
One of the most crucial measurements you want to get right is the seat width. Basically, the most common width measurements range from 16 to 20 inches. In the case of Bariatric wheelchairs, this measurement can extend up to 30 inches whereas, in Pediatric wheelchairs, it can be as small as 14 inches.
The correct width stabilizes the user’s sitting position. A snug fit should be the main objective because if it’s too wide it can lead to both poor posture and unnecessary movement. On the other hand, a narrower frame decreases the stability of the chair and this can result in injury.
To identify a person’s wheelchair seat width, measure from one side of the hip to the other in a straight line. Don’t forget to add an inch or two to compensate for clothing. From that measurement, then you can determine whether a 20, 18 or 16-inch seat width is better. These are the standard wheelchair size for seat width.
2. Seat Depth
Closely following the width in regard to importance is the wheelchair seat depth. It is the measurement from the back to the front of the wheelchair. To determine the ideal seat depth, measure the user from the back of the knee to the back of the hip when they are seated. If the user previously owned a wheelchair, it can be easier to get that measurement from the old wheelchair if it was comfortable.
Kindly note that seat depth contributes immensely to biomechanics and comfort. If it’s too long, the user may have to endure extended legs, forward slipping, or even a slumped posture. If the chair is too short, then it may overload the buttocks section and affect mobility. The ideal seat depth will not only distribute your weight throughout the wheelchair but it will ease movement.
Standard wheelchair size seat depth is 16 inches.
3. Seat Height
After you are done with the bottom section of the seat, the next thing that should be on your mind is the height of the seat. Please be informed, when we are talking about chair seat height, that of the cushion should also be included. The correct seat height comes with numerous benefits; it provides leg support while distributing your weight all over the chair. When determining seat height, you should be mindful of a size that can fit under tables.
When taking this measurement, observe the following. The seat height is measured by measuring from the floor to the seat. The ideal wheelchair seat height heavily depends on a user’s needs. It should neither be too high or too low as it may leave your feet dangling or dragging on the feet. User’s that propel themselves using their feet should have a relatively lower seat height to make this possible.
When it comes to back height, things do get a little bit tricky. Because, if it’s high, then you are guaranteed of more stability especially if you struggle with posture complications. On the other hand, a lower backrest height creates more room for arm movement and self-propelling. The latter however minimizes support.
As you take this measurement, it is crucial that you consider the above and choose a backrest height that meets the user’s needs. While we are still talking about backrest height, it is advisable you opt for a model that supports tension adjustability.
To get this reading, measure from the bottom of the seat to the user’s collarbone. Should the height of a wheelchair not be pleasant, it can always be extended by accessories. For example, if the user has back issues, they can opt for reclining backrests or higher ones.
5. Seat Angle
To prevent slipping forward or abnormal postures, the angle of the seat to that of the backrest should be well calculated. You should find an ideal seat angle because if the angle is greater it can be harder for the user to self-propel and if it’s lesser than required, the posture assumed can be harmful.
Despite being often overlooked, the armrest measurements play a pivotal role in determining the correct size wheelchair. There are two main alternatives regarding armrests. We have the full length and desk length. The latter is ideal for enabling easy access to desks as well as tables. Whereas full-length armrests guarantee additional arm support when helping oneself to stand. Some wheelchair models come with removable or flip back arms.
7. Leg Rests
Leg rests are also divided into two. We have the elevating and swing-away. The elevating option features a calf pad which aids in minimizing swelling. The swing-away leg rests are designed to rotate from left to right allowing users to easily get on or off the wheelchair.
Get the Correct Wheelchair Size
Understanding wheelchair sizes helps both users and caregivers find the best models that will cater for seating needs and mobility. Also, it is highly recommended that you inquire from an expert company about the correct wheelchair size before making a purchase.
If you choose the wrong size and are not happy with it and it’s not working for you then Towson Medical Equipment will replace it with a different size of the same wheelchair. Our sales team are trained in sizing for wheelchairs at our Parkville MD location. Simply call or visit our store and we will help guide you thru the process of wheelchair sizing.
1 Seat Depth: The distance from the back to the inside of the knee.
2 Back Height: The distance from the base of the seat to the top of the back.
3 Seat Width: The distance from the left side of the seat to the right side of the seat. Ideally the widest part of the body should fit comfortably with an extra inch to spare for movement within the seat. An 18″ seat is the usable seat width.
4 Seat To Floor: The distance from the edge of the seat to the floor.
5 Footrest Width: The distance between the left footrest and the right footrest.