When you use a wheelchair to get around, comfort is the utmost priority.
If you are trying to use an uncomfortable wheelchair, you could have cramped muscles, posture problems, repetitive use injuries.
Pressure sores and more.
Not only do you need to have a properly fitted wheelchair for your day-to-day activities, but you may also need to have specialty chairs for specific activities.
This article discusses the steps needed to measure yourself for a wheelchair and choose the correct wheelchair to meet your needs.
Read on to learn more.
7 Steps for Correct Wheelchair Measurement
Follow these seven steps to measure yourself for a wheelchair correctly:
You will need an assistant
A tape measure
Have your assistant help you to become properly seated in the chair. You can use an ordinary firm chair or a wheelchair.
Either way, measurements must be taken while you are seated.
1, Measure for Seat Width
Start by measuring the widest part of your body.
This is usually across the hips or the thighs.
Measure straight across the hips and thighs.
Don’t bend the tape measure.
Add a couple of inches to this measurement to consider thick clothing, ease of transfer and the need to move about a bit.
2, Measure for Back Height
Measure vertically from the seat of the chair to your collarbone.
Generally speaking, the top of the back of your chair be just about even with your armpit.
Generally speaking, wheelchair backs are approximately 16 inches tall.
This varies from person to person, though.
For example, if you need more support, you may want to higher back.
If you are a very active wheelchair user and will be propelling yourself in your chair, you may want a lower back to allow your arms more freedom of movement.
If you need to change positions throughout the day, you may want a reclining backrest.
3, Measure for Seat Depth, Front to Back
You can determine the depth of the seat by measuring from the back of your hipbone to the back of your knee while sitting.
Subtract 1 or 2 inches from this measurement.
This will help prevent the front edge of your wheelchair seat from poking the back of your knees.
4, Measure for Armrest Height
If you are standing up or pivoting from your chair frequently, you may want full-length wheelchair arms.
A full-length arm provides the proper support to push yourself out of the chair.
If you are sitting at a desk or table frequently, you will want desk link chair arms.
To determine the height of the arm that will be correct for you, measure from your elbow to the seat of your chair while holding your arms at a 90° angle.
It is best to get adjustable height armrests to make small adjustments as needed throughout the day for various activities.
You will probably want desk-length armrests that leave room to move in close to desks and tables.
However, if you need to transfer from your chair or stand on your own from time to time, full-length armrests are preferable because they provide more support.
5, Measure for Footrest Height
To determine footrest height, have your assistant measure from the back of your knee down to the heel of your foot.
Add a couple of inches to this measurement to provide floor clearance.
You also want to determine the hangar angle, which refers to the positioning of the footrest.
You may wish to have this angle set anywhere between 60 and 80° depending on your level of comfort.
If you have problems such as swelling or edema or recovering from an injury to your foot or lower leg, you may need leg rests that raise.
Elevated legs will let you extend your legs.
If you are very tall, you may need articulating leg rests.
These can extend to a greater length and also elevate the legs.
6, Measure for the Height of your Wheelchair Seat
If you are using your feet to propel your chair, the distance from the front of your seat to the floor should be equal to the distance from the back of your knee to your heel.
If not, add 2 inches to this distance to allow for clearance of your footrests.
The back of the seat should be slightly lower than the front to allow for comfort and prevent you from sliding forward.
7, Determine How Much your Wheelchair Must Carr
You’ll need to weigh yourself.
Generally speaking, a well-built wheelchair can carry up to 300 pounds.
If necessary, you can get a bariatric wheelchair to accommodate the greater weight.