Getting a Comfortable Fit: How to Measure for a Manual Wheelchair

When it comes to getting a new wheelchair, comfort is a top priority. If any part of the chair isn’t properly fitted – something is too long, too short, or too narrow – it can quickly become uncomfortable to sit in over time. The Discount Ramps team of mobility professionals has put together a simple step by step guide of how to measure for a manual wheelchair to get the best, most comfortable fit.

Seat Width

Measure the widest point of the body, usually the hips or the thighs, while in a sitting position. Add an inch or two to accommodate for movement and bulky winter clothing.

Seat Depth

Measure from the back of the hips to the back of the knees. Then add or subtract approximately one or two inches to determine your ideal seat depth (depending on how much leg overhang you prefer).

Back Height

Measure from the hips to the shoulders to determine the full height of the seat back. This measurement will provide an ideal seat back height for users who need the largest amount of back support. Users with better upper body control and posture can use wheelchairs with shorter seat backs. Keep in mind, the height of your seat back will directly affect the range of motion in your shoulders, which could impede your ability to push the wheelchair.

Seat Height

Front of Seat

Measured from the ground to the top front edge of the seat upholstery. Seat-to-floor height is determined by measuring from the back of the knee to the sole of the foot and adding about 1-2" to accommodate footrest clearance. Proper seat-to-floor height depends upon the amount of ground clearance desired and how high you prefer to sit.

Rear of Seat

This is measured from the ground to the top rear edge of the seat. The rear seat-to-floor height will be equal to or less than the front seat-to-floor height, depending on if the wheelchair has a rearward seat angle slope.

Hanger Angle

Measure from the hips to the shoulders to determine the full height of the seat back. This measurement will provide an ideal seat back height for users who need the largest amount of back support. Users with better upper body control and posture can use wheelchairs with shorter seat backs. Keep in mind, the height of your seat back will directly affect the range of motion in your shoulders, which could impede your ability to push the wheelchair.

Wheel Camber

The wheel camber is applied to the rear wheels of your wheelchair, and is the angling that brings the top of the wheels closer to each other. A higher camber increases the wheelchair stability and agility, but will make the base wider. Typical wheelchairs use three degrees of camber.

Proper Measurements are Important!
Sitting in an unfitted wheelchair is not only uncomfortable, it can also cause unnecessary strain or injury on the user. This is why it’s especially important to get the proper measurements for your wheelchair before purchasing one.