Gone are the days when one size fits all wheelchairs. A Wheelchair is a very sophisticated and personalized device these days that can be adjusted to body measurements, level of comfort, type of disability, and level of activities etc.
In this article, you will read about what size of different parts of wheelchair is suitable for you and how you can do all the necessary adjustments to make it suitable according to your body needs and measurements, so that you can make the most out of your wheelchair.
Seat measurements :
You should take care of seat measurements in three ways i.e seat height, seat width and seat depth.
- Wheelchair Seat height is the measurement of seat to floor distance. By hanging your hands to the sides if your fingertips just cross the chair’s axles then this height is good for you. With this height, you will be able to transfer and push your chair easily.
- Proper wheelchair seat width, which is the distance between two sides of the frame is very important. wheelchair width should be according to your body measurement, neither too tight nor too wide. A tight seat may cause you pressure sores and a wider one may create problems with your sitting posture and stability, and make the wheelchair difficult to go through doorways.
- Seat depth is the distance between front and rear edges of the seat. To determine proper seat depth for yourself, measure distance between back of the hip and back of the knees, and add 1 or two inches for clearance. Your wheelchair’s seat depth should be according to this measurement, neither less nor high. If seat depth is less then your sitting posture will not be correct. You will be sitting on your pelvis, pressure will not properly be distributed between your buttocks, thighs and feet and therefore chances of developing a pressure sore will increase. A seat depth with high length than the required measurements will touch your legs from back sides of your ankles and might create a pressure sore.
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The weak trunk muscle power resulting in poor sitting posture in quadriplegics can be compensated and seating can be made comfortable and safe if there is a bit of angle in the seat. Too high angle may effect independence by making transfer difficult.
Wheelchair’s backrest is very important for posture, comfort and support. Low level active paraplegics like low height backrest, as it gives them freedom to perform various activities in wheelchair. Quadriplegics, who are lacking trunk muscles power require high backrest and in some cases, even up till shoulders to provide good support. Backrest with an angle or adjustable tension backrest are very good for quadriplegics to achieve comfortable seating and good pasture.
Foot plates measurement :
To properly distribute pressure among buttocks, thighs and feet, adjust length of your chair’s foot plates according to your body measurement. A short length will make your buttocks prone to pressure sores by raising your knees above pelvis and putting more pressure on buttocks.
As one can commonly observe in a sports wheelchair that the rear wheels are in an angle with respect to the chair. This is called camber. A bit of camber is good for protecting your hands and increasing base of support, but too much camber will make it difficult to go through doorways.
Rear axles adjustment:
Axles of rear wheels of modern wheelchair can be adjusted forward or backward. By trying various positions you can find the ideal place for the axles. If the axles are forward, then most of your weight will be on rear wheels, making pushing and wheeling easier, but danger of falling back will be higher and transfer may be difficult because of tires coming on the way.