One of the things you’ll notice when you start shopping for a wheelchair is that there are basically two different types: transport wheelchairs and standard or lightweight wheelchairs. The main difference between these two types of wheelchairs is the size of the rear wheels. On the transport chair, the rear wheels are the same size (or only slightly larger) as the front casters, ranging from about 6 to 12 inches. On a standard wheelchair, the rear wheels are much larger than the front casters, with the most popular size being 24 inches in diameter.
There are several points you may want to consider when deciding between a transport chair and a standard wheelchair, including chair weight and size, how you will be using the chair, and your budget. Below is a list of basic differences between these two types of wheelchairs.
These measurements are designed to help you buy the right wheelchair. Taking a few basic measurements before purchasing mobility equipment can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
The most important measurement to take is seat width. Most wheelchairs are available in 16, 18, and 20 inch widths. To find the right width, measure the width of the user in a seated position from one outside hip to the other outside hip. Add 1 inch to make room for bulky clothing and movement. An easy way to take this measurement is to place a book snugly against the hip on either side of the user and measure the distance between the two books.
|Seat Width Measurement|
|Width of hips in seated position + 1 inch|
The second measurement required to find the right wheelchair is seat height. While the user is seated, measure from the underside of the knee to the bottom of the foot to find the correct seat height. Keep in mind that a seat cushion, if used, will add about two inches to the user’s seat height. The standard 19″ to 21″ seat height works well for most individuals 5’4″ and taller. Seat-to-floor height is especially important for users who want to propel the chair with their feet. If you want to be able to adjust the wheelchair from standard height to hemi height (approximately 2 inches shorter than standard height), look for a wheelchair with dual axle positioning.
|Seat Height Measurement|
|User Height||Approx. Seat Height|
|4’11″ and under||14″ to 16″|
|5’4″ and under||17″ to 18″|
|5’4″ and above||19″ to 21″|
Finally, it’s important to find the correct seat depth. With the user seated upright in a chair, measure the distance from the inside of the knee to the most posterior point of the body. Then subtract an inch or two to allow for relaxed posture. Note that some users may prefer more leg overhang to make it easier to slide their hand beneath their leg for repositioning.
|Seat Depth Measurement|
|Distance from back of knee to back of seat, minus 1-2 inches|
Watch for blog posts from Roll Mobility coming soon!