Posted on Leave a comment

Guidelines for Choosing a Best-Fit Wheelchair

Best-Fit Wheelchair

Choose a Best-Fit Wheelchair That’s Designed Just For you

Wheelchairs today come in many different sizes with as many different features. The challenge is choosing a Best-Fit Wheelchair that fits your size and needs. The wrong chair can delay recovery or even cause further personal injury. At best, a mismatched wheelchair is just inconvenient.

A person who needs a wheelchair obviously has medical issues, for example, pelvic & hip problems, back trouble, respiratory problems, or pressure sores.  Whatever the problem, you do not want to choose a chair which will exacerbate those problems or cause others. Ask a physical or occupational therapist to measure the user and give advice about your choices.

Here is a list of  important considerations to guide you in your search for the Best-Fit Wheelchair.

Determine Seat Size

  • The seat width of a wheelchair is determined by measuring across from hip to hip in a straight line, then adding 2 inches to that measurement.  Don’t get a wheelchair that is too tight to sit in comfortably.
  • The seat depth is also important. Seat depth should be indicated by measuring from the back of the hip to the back of the knee of the user when seated. Subtract one inch from this measurement.

Determine Arm Height

  • The height of the arms on most wheelchairs are adjustable. You can select the height of the wheelchair’s arm by measuring from the elbow to the seat of the chair. And compare that with the user is holding their arms with their elbows bent at a ninety degree angle.

Determine Arm Type

  • If the wheelchair user might stand up to do transfers, he will require a full-length arm on the chair to help support him as he pushes off to stand. Choose a standard full-length arm for this.
  • If the user would like to sit at tables and desks while seated in his wheelchair, then use the shorter desk-length arms on the wheelchair.

Determine Footrest Style

  • Some users will want to elevate their legs if they have swelling or wear a brace or cast. Determine the length of the footrest by measuring from the back of the knee to the heel of
    Best-Fit Wheelchair
    Elevating Foot Rest

    the foot.

  • For a tall user, consider using articulating leg rests which extend as the elevating portion of the leg rest rises.

Determine Back Height

  • If the patient needs extra support for his trunk or if support devices must be installed for the user, then a taller back will be needed.
  • Determine the measurement from the patient’s collarbone down to the seat while the user is sitting in a chair.

Determine Floor to Seat Height

  • Will the user be using his feet to propel himself or move? Measure the distance between the back of the knee to the heel to determine the seat to floor height.

Determine Wheelchair Weight Limit

  • Determine the user’s weight in order to choose what weight capacity wheelchair will be required.

Determine Wheelchair Weight

  • Determine the level of upper body strength of the user. Weaker patients require lighter wheelchairs.  It is necessary for the user to be able to propel the wheelchair without straining.
  • You may also need to consider the caregiver who may need to fold and load the wheelchair when traveling about town.


To elaborate on that last statement, if you are a caregiver and you’re having to transport a loved-one in and out of your car, you might want to consider a transport wheelchair. They have smaller wheels which make it impossible for the patient to propel themselves. However they weigh a fraction of a standard wheelchair are especially easy to fold and load.

If you are still unsure about certain options or perhaps question what is best for the user, seek help from a medical professional.

A physical therapist or an occupational therapist would be able to evaluate the user to help determine the best fit.

As always, your thoughts are welcome,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *