Choosing the Right Wheelchair: How To Find Your Perfect Fit

July 20, 2015

With so many different types out there, making sure that you’re picking the right wheelchair may seem to be a pretty daunting task, as there are many factors that should be taken into consideration when you’re weighing your options. However, if you spend some time finding out more about each wheelchair you’re considering, working with an occupational therapist to make sure you’re selecting the type of wheelchair that best fits your needs, and asking yourself some key questions, choosing the right wheelchair isn’t so difficult after all.

Get To Know the Chairs You’re Considering

When choosing a wheelchair, ake close measurements to make sure the fit is right.

Take close measurements of the wheelchair to make sure the fit is right.

Regardless of which style or design of wheelchair you’re considering, the most important part of choosing the right wheelchair is ensuring that its size and dimensions provide a perfect fit for the user so that they are comfortable in their new wheelchair.

Seat width is the first factor to take into account. Anywhere from 16-20″ is common for most models. Pediatric wheelchairs are available that average around 14″ in seat width. For those who need a little more room, there are also bariatric wheelchairs which can offer an adjustable seat width of more than 40″.

Next, there’s seat depth. A seat’s depth is the measurement from the front to the back of the wheelchair seat. To determine a user’s ideal measurement you simply measure them while seated from the back of their calf to the back of their pelvis.

Make your wheelchair more functional with the right accessories.

Make your wheelchair more functional with the right accessories.

Seat to floor height is also an important factor, as you don’t want the user’s feet to be far above the ground but you also don’t want them to be dragging. If the user is still slightly mobile and is used to using their feet once in awhile, it’s a good idea to start with a lower seat to floor height than may seem appropriate. This is called foot propelling and you would do this by removing the footrests and allowing the person to propel their wheelchair by walking their legs.

Finally, there’s the back height measurement taken from the top of the seat’s backrest to the bottom. This measurement is determined by how much support the user needs. If they require minimal support and are going to be arm propelling, you would normally measure the user from the bottom of their buttocks to underneath their scapula. If they required more support, you could measure to the top of the shoulders.

You could also increase a persons comfort with proper fitting wheelchair accessories. Accessories such as well-placed armrests and leg rests, wheelchair trays, oxygen tank holders, and many more are also a very important part of making sure you find that perfect fit that seamlessly improves the user’s lifestyle.

Work with An Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist can help the user properly assess their needs.

An occupational therapist can help the user properly assess their needs.

It’s a good idea to consult with an occupational therapist somewhere within the process of choosing the right wheelchair. They can even specifically prescribe the perfect type of wheelchair to match the user’s needs. To find out which type of wheelchair will offer the most benefits, they take a variety of factors into consideration.

Age is a very important factor, as levels of strength and endurance will determine whether the user should have a manual or power wheelchair. Occupational therapists can also help find the perfect size by assessing what type of measurements will be necessary to accommodate your height, weight, and body type. Finally, they can assess any medical issues, disabilities, or injuries the user may have to ensure that you’re picking the right wheelchair to meet their unique needs.

Many wheelchair manufacturers or businesses that specialize in medical products, such as ours, also have trained professionals on hand who can offer advice and information about each type of wheelchair. If it’s not the first time the user has had a wheelchair and they’re thinking of upgrading, these experts are extremely knowledgeable about all of the new technology and advancements in the industry that can help someone in picking the right wheelchair.

Key Questions When Choosing A Wheelchair

Asking the user the right key questions will help determine what they need.

Asking the user the right key questions will help determine what they need.

Now that you know more about the types of measurements you will need to know to ensure you find the proper fit, and you’re considering enlisting the help of an occupational therapist or other expert, you should ask some key questions to make sure you’re picking the right wheelchair.

When choosing the right wheelchair, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the wheelchair be used only indoors, or outdoors as well?
  • How much of the day will be spent in the wheelchair?
  • What type of activities will the user expect to be able to complete in the wheelchair?
  • Does the user have any injuries or medical issues that would make using a standard wheelchair uncomfortable?
  • Does the user need to transport the wheelchair in a car?
  • Does the user want a manual wheelchair or a power wheelchair?
  • What sort range of motion does the user expect to be able to achieve in their new wheelchair?
  • What sort of budget is available for the wheelchair? Will it be covered by insurance?

Make sure you assess the answers to these questions carefully, and use them in combination with the information we provided above to help guide you in the right direction.

Congratulations, you’ve now officially begun the journey towards choosing the right wheelchair with the perfect fit. Feel free to contact us, and we’d be happy to help you make sure you have all of your bases covered.

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