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How to Measure for a Wheelchair

How to Measure for a Wheelchair

Buying a wheelchair is a daunting task as a lot goes into it. We want to make sure each customer who buys a wheelchair feels confident in their purchase if theyā€™re buying it for themselves or for a loved one we want to be there to help. That's why we've created this blog to help you understand what you'll need to know to ensure a proper fit for a wheelchair,Ā  essential for comfort, safety, and overall well-being. Using the wrong size wheelchair can lead to discomfort, pressure sores, and other health issues. We will walk you through the steps on how to measure for a wheelchair to ensure the perfect fit so that you can decide with confidence.Ā 

What Youā€™ll Need

To take accurate measurements, you'll need the following tools:

  • Tape measure
  • Scale
  • Seated patient

1. Seat Width

How to Measure:

  1. Have the patient sit on a flat surface.
  2. Measure the widest point of the hips or thighs, whichever is broader.
  3. Add 1-2 inches for comfort.

Why Itā€™s Important: Proper seat width ensures the patient is comfortable and stable. An overly narrow seat can cause pressure sores, while a seat thatā€™s too wide may lead to poor posture and difficulty maneuvering the wheelchair.

Wheelchair Type

Seat Width (inches)

Total Width with Wheels and Arms (approx. inches)





Designed for children; size and total width can vary with customizable options.

Narrow Adult



Ideal for tight indoor spaces; used by those needing a compact wheelchair.

Standard Adult



Most common adult size; balances comfort and mobility, suitable for average door widths.

Wide Adult



For larger adults; ensures comfort with a bit more room, consider door width accessibility.

Extra Wide (Bariatric)



Designed for bariatric users; significantly wider to accommodate over 300 lbs., ensuring spaces can accommodate the increased total width.

2. Seat Depth

How to Measure:

  1. Have the patient sit upright.
  2. Measure from the back of the buttocks to the back of the knee.
  3. Subtract 1-2 inches to allow for leg movement and comfort.

Why Itā€™s Important: Accurate seat depth helps prevent slouching and supports proper posture. It also ensures the patientā€™s legs are not dangling, which can cause discomfort and circulation issues.

3. Back Height

How to Measure:

  1. Measure from the top of the seat to the top of the shoulders.
  2. For shorter backrests, measure to the bottom of the ribcage.

Why Itā€™s Important: Proper back height supports the patientā€™s upper body and provides comfort. A backrest thatā€™s too high can restrict movement, while one thatā€™s too low may not provide adequate support.

4. Rear Seat to Floor

How to Measure:

  1. Measure from the back of the seat to the floor.
  2. Ensure the patientā€™s feet are flat on the ground.

Why Itā€™s Important: This measurement ensures the wheelchairā€™s rear is at the correct height, allowing for stability and ease of movement. Itā€™s crucial for maintaining proper posture and preventing tipping.

5. Front Seat Height

How to Measure:

  1. Measure from the front of the seat to the floor.
  2. Ensure the patientā€™s feet are flat and knees are at a 90-degree angle.

Why Itā€™s Important: Proper front seat height helps in transferring to and from the wheelchair. It also ensures comfort and prevents strain on the legs and feet.

6. Hanger Angle

How to Measure:

  1. Measure the angle from the seat to where the footrest attaches.
  2. The angle should accommodate the patientā€™s leg length comfortably.

Why Itā€™s Important: The hanger angle affects the wheelchairā€™s maneuverability and the patientā€™s comfort. A proper angle ensures the patientā€™s legs are not cramped and can move freely.

7. Armrest Height

How to Measure:

  1. Measure from the seat to the patientā€™s elbow while sitting.
  2. Add 1 inch to ensure comfort.

Why Itā€™s Important: Correct armrest height provides support for the arms and helps in maintaining proper posture. It also aids in transfers and reduces the risk of shoulder strain.

8. Footrest Length and Width

How to Measure:

  1. Measure from the back of the knee to the heel.
  2. Ensure the width accommodates the patientā€™s foot comfortably.

Why Itā€™s Important: Proper footrest length and width prevent foot drop and provide support. They ensure the patientā€™s feet are well-supported, enhancing overall comfort and stability.

9. Patient Weight

Why Itā€™s Important: Selecting a wheelchair that supports the patientā€™s weight is crucial for safety and durability. Bariatric wheelchairs are available for heavier patients and provide additional support and comfort.


Measuring for a wheelchair may seem daunting, but it's crucial for ensuring comfort, safety, and mobility. By following these steps, you can find the perfect fit and enhance the patientā€™s quality of life.


  • How often should I measure for a wheelchair? It's recommended to measure every few years or if there are significant changes in the patientā€™s weight or mobility.
  • Can I use a regular tape measure? Yes, a regular tape measure works fine, but ensure accuracy by double-checking measurements.
  • What if the wheelchair doesnā€™t fit properly? Consult with a healthcare professional or wheelchair specialist to adjust the fit or find a more suitable option.
  • Are there different types of wheelchairs? Yes, there are manual, power, and bariatric wheelchairs, each designed for specific needs and preferences.
  • How do I maintain a wheelchair? Regularly check for wear and tear, clean the wheelchair, and ensure all parts are functioning correctly.
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