How to Measure Your Wheelchair or Assistive Device?

As a wheelchair user, it is important to have proper seating and wheelchair to ensure your comfort and safety while using an assistive device. The first step in achieving this is proper wheelchair measurement assessment. Proper measurement will help determine the right wheelchair size and components that suit your body measurements, posture, and support needs.

Why is Wheelchair Measurement Important?

Benefits of Proper Wheelchair Measurement

Proper wheelchair measurement has numerous benefits to wheelchair users. It ensures a comfortable and proper fit of the seating system and other components of the wheelchair. Correct measurements also decrease the risk of developing pressure ulcers caused by an ill-fitting wheelchair and improper seating support.

Consequences of Incorrect Measurement

Incorrect measurement of the wheelchair can cause discomfort, pain, or injury to the user. It can also lead to pressure ulcers, poor posture, and decreased mobility. In extreme situations, incorrect wheelchair measurement can cause musculoskeletal disorders and other physical concerns.

How to Measure for a Wheelchair Fit?

Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring for a Wheelchair

The first step in measuring for a wheelchair fit involves taking body measurements. These measurements include hip width, seat depth, and seat height. It is important to measure the distance from the back of the knee to the hip and from the hip to the floor to determine the proper seat height.

Once you have taken these body measurements, you can proceed to measure the wheelchair seat. You should measure the width of the seat from side to side and the depth from the backrest to the front of the seat. You can use a tape measure to take these measurements.

Some wheelchair assessment processes also use lateral support measurements to determine the adequate support needs of the user. Measurements may also be taken to determine propelling needs and maneuvering space and ground clearance.

Tips for Accurate Measurement

To achieve an accurate measurement, ensure you measure the distance correctly from the body parts to the floor. Use a firm and steady surface to sit, and ensure you maintain good posture throughout the measurement process. If possible, have someone assist you in measuring the distances for accuracy.

Determine Proper Seat Width and Depth

Ensure that the seat width and depth of your wheelchair fit accordingly to prevent any discomfort. The ideal width is the user’s hip width plus 2 inches. For seat depth, measure from the back of the pelvis to the back of the knee and subtract 2 inches from the result. This formula ensures that the user has enough clearance and a comfortable sitting position.

What are the Different Types of Wheelchairs?

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are the most common type of wheelchair available and are propelled by the user or by pushing with assistance. They are generally lightweight and foldable.

Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs are electrically powered and operated by a joystick or touchpad. They typically have a more complex seating system and are heavier and less portable than manual wheelchairs.

Specialty Wheelchairs

Specialty wheelchairs are designed for specific needs, such as sports or off-road use. They are typically more customized and offer specific features to meet the user’s specific requirements.

What Factors Determine Correct Wheelchair Size?

Body Measurements

Body measurements, including hip width, seat depth, and seat height, play an essential role in determining the correct wheelchair size. Taking accurate measurements ensures that the user receives a proper fit.

Posture and Support Needs

The posture and support needs of the user also affect the type of wheelchair required. For instance, if the user requires additional lateral support, they will need a wheelchair designed to cater to this specific support need.

Maneuvering Space and Ground Clearance

Maneuvering and ground clearance determine the type of wheels and tires required for the wheelchair. Rough terrain may require larger wheels, while maneuverability in small spaces may require smaller wheels.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair?

Seat Height and Back Support

Selecting the correct seat height and back support ensures the user has adequate back support while using the wheelchair.

Cushion and Footrest

A cushion ensures that the user remains comfortable throughout long usage periods. The footrest is essential for users who cannot place their feet on the ground. It prevents unnecessary pressure on the back and legs.

Pressure Ulcers and Recline

Pressure ulcer formation may occur due to prolonged sitting, especially if the user has poor circulation. The wheelchair should have a reclining feature to prevent pressure ulcers, and the user should maintain a proper sitting position.


Q: How important is it to measure a wheelchair or assistive device accurately?

A: It is essential to measure your wheelchair or assistive device properly to ensure that you get the right product that suits your requirements, needs, and comfort. Properly fitting wheelchair can impact your body posture, prevent injuries, and enhance mobility.

Q: What is the best way to measure for a proper wheelchair?

A: The best way to measure for a proper wheelchair is to take accurate body measurements and compare them with the measuring guide for the particular mobility device. By doing this, you will determine the proper wheelchair dimensions that provide the desired levels of support and comfort to the user.

Q: How do I measure my body for a wheel mobility device?

A: Consider taking the following measurements; seat width, seat depth, back height, legrest length, armrest height, floor to seat, and floor to armrest. By taking these measures, you will get a wheelchair that is properly sized, offering the correct posture support, and assistive technology necessary for mobility assistance.

Q: Where should I measure when measuring the width of a wheelchair?

A: When measuring the width of a wheelchair, you should measure from the inside of one armrest to the other armrest.

Q: What are the most critical parts of a chair to consider when fitting for a wheelchair cushion?

A: The most critical parts to consider when fitting for a wheelchair cushion include; the pelvis and ischial tuberosities, or those parts in the seat of the chair that support the body, control balance, and help in transferring weight to reach the floor.

Q: What is the proper way to measure the seat width of a wheelchair?

A: To determine the wheelchair’s correct seat width, you should measure the widest part of the body while seated in a chair, and then add one to two inches to the measurement. This simplistic and straightforward method will ensure that the wheelchair fits properly.

Q: What are postural support devices?

A: Postural support devices refer to accessories like special cushions, backrests, headrests, and neck rests that offer extra support to the user, providing a better seated position and protecting the body from strain or fatigue while using a wheelchair.

Q: How can I prepare the wheelchair service providers to obtain accurate measurements?

A: By gathering all the critical information about the mobility device user’s needs, including their medical history, type of disability, daily routine, and expected usage of the wheelchair, the wheelchair service providers can ensure that they obtain an accurate measurement and ultimately get the best assistive technology that truly provides the support and independence you need.

Q: How can I measure the ground clearance of a wheelchair?

A: Ground clearance refers to the height between the chair’s base and the ground. To measure the ground clearance of a wheelchair, use a measuring tool to determine the chair’s height from the floor.

Q: Who provides the standard sizing for wheelchairs in the U.S?

A: The Assistive Technology Society of North America (ATSA) provides the standard sizing guides for wheelchairs in the United States.


Proper wheelchair fit and assessment are crucial for individuals using mobility devices. Measuring body dimensions and following a measuring guide help determine the correct wheelchair size and ensure accurate measurements. A wheelchair assessment conducted by an occupational therapist or healthcare professional considers factors such as seating, wheelchair configuration, and manoeuvring space. Different types of wheelchairs, including manual and power wheelchairs, cater to specific needs and provide support surfaces and backrests for proper posture and comfort. Measurements for seat width, depth, height, and ground clearance play a vital role in selecting the right wheelchair. Wheelchair users benefit from assistive technology and seating support surfaces to prevent pressure ulcers and improve mobility.

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