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Wheelchair Measuring Guide

In order to provide the best possible results, wheelchair measurements are essential in order to meet the needs and comfort of the wheelchair user. Keeping in mind that every wheelchair user is unique, this guide is provided as an aid to help achieve these results. Measuring for Transport Wheelchairs, Standard Wheelchairs and most Lightweight Wheelchairs requires only the seat width & depth. For those wanting to propel the chair with their feet, only the seat-to-floor height is required. Always measure the user in a seated position, on a hard surface using only straight lines.


A - Seat Back Measurement

Seat back height will vary from user to user; and based upon the user’s medical condition, full back support may be required. Most users only require lumbar support, and the standard medium back height will work fine and is determined by measuring from the seat base to the top of the shoulder blades.


B - Seat Depth Measurement

Seat depth is usually determined by measuring the seat depth of the user from the most posterior point of the body to the inside of the knee. Subtract at 1 or 2 inches, to allow for relaxed posture. Noting that some users may prefer more leg overhang to make room for their hand when lifting
their leg for repositioning.


C - Seat Height Measurement

The correct seat height is determined by measuring from the sole of the foot to the back of the knee. This measurement is used to determine where your feet will rest comfortably, without strain on your legs or back. This is the seat height in relation to the footplate or footrests, and is usually the height of the user where they are able to access tables or transfer without too much difficulty.


D - Armrest Measurement

Some chairs have an optional adjustable armrest height. To determine correct armrest height, the user should be seated in a comfortable position with the elbow at a right angle. Measure from the seat just under the elbow and add 1".


E - Seat Width Measurement

Seat width is usually determined by measuring the width of the user (outside hip to outside hip while sitting) plus 1" which would allow for movement or bulky clothing, if applicable.


 Side View  Front View



Wheelchair Notes


Overall Wheelchair Width

For most folding, standard weight and lightweight wheelchairs the overall width of the chair (outside wheel to outside wheel) is determined by adding 8" to the seat width. Transport chairs generally add up to 3" to seat width, depending on wheelchair model.


Wheelchair Weight

The difference between light-weight and standard wheelchairs can be as much as 10 - 20 lbs. Weight is definitely a consideration if the wheelchair is going to be transported in a car trunk, backseat, or propelled by an individual. Some steel framed chairs approach 50 lbs. and can be too difficult to propel, carry, or lift. Lightweight wheelchairs range in weight from 28 lbs. to 36 lbs. and are easier to lift into a car trunk.


Seat to Floor Height

Seat-to-floor height is important if the user is going to propel the wheelchair with their feet. Seat-to-floor height can be adjusted down approximately 2" by purchasing a “dual axle” wheelchair. On these “adjustable height” chairs with “dual axles” the front forks have several holes to allow moving the front wheels up or down a few inches. The combination of these adjustments allow for about 2 inches of adjustment in seat-to-floor height.


Seat to Floor Height vs Hemi

Standard seat-to-floor height for a wheelchair is 19.5". Hemi is 17.5 to 19.5-inches and varies some what with different models. Anything lower to the ground is a “super“ Hemi. In some cases to achieve a lower seat-to-floor height the rear wheels are changed from the standard 24-inch to either a 22 or 20-inch. The front casters are also changed from a standard 8-inch to a 6 or 5-inch. Remember: if you are adding a cushion to a wheelchair allow that differential (you’ll be adding approx. 2" to seat height.)


User Height Seat Height
4'11" and under 14" to 16"
5' to 5'4" 17" to 18"
5' and up 19" to 21"


Wheelchair Accessories

Anti-tips are appropriate when a user is very active and there is a risk of falling. Seat belts may be used to prevent the user from sliding down or out of a chair. Brake extensions are recommended for ease of use for those users with arthritis or similar conditions. Positioning devices such as cushions, laterals, lap trays, back
supports, and many other similar devices can appropriately position a patient in a chair.