how to measure for a wheelchair

How To Measure For A Wheelchair

When it comes to purchasing a new wheelchair, your comfort is about the greatest priority.

If you try to use an uncomfortable wheelchair, you may develop cramped muscles, postural issues, and repetitive use injuries.

Pressure sores, among other things.

Not only do you require a well fitting wheelchair for daily activities, but you may also need specialist chairs for specific hobbies.

In this article, we will go over how to measure yourself for a wheelchair and how to find the best wheelchair for your needs.

Keep reading to find out more.

how to measure for a wheelchair
How to measure for a wheelchair?

What are the different types of wheelchairs?

It can be either a manual or an electric wheelchair.

The manual wheelchair is lighter than the power wheelchair, and it takes more effort to maneuver it.

Electric wheelchairs are propelled by motors that are powered by large rechargeable batteries.

A little more than a generation ago, the standard chair was a chrome-plated behemoth weighing around 50 pounds.

Chairs are now available in a kaleidoscope of colors and a bewildering assortment of shapes.

There are power chairs with a captain’s seat that are platform-style.

Scooters with three and four wheels are available.

There are folding variants for travel and sturdy, off-road suited models for outdoor pursuits.

There are reclining and standing chairs, as well as smart chairs and chairs designed for certain activities.

Basic Wheelchair Measurement

To select the best available size of wheelchair for a wheelchair user with strong trunk control and no need for additional postural support, 10 measurements from the wheelchair user are required.

Seat Width

While sitting, measure the widest part of your body, usually your hips or thighs.

Allow for movement and bulky winter clothes by adding an inch or two.

Seat width

Seat Depth

Measure horizontally from the back of the buttocks to the inside of the knees, then subtract two inches to ensure that the seat’s edge does not dig into the back of the user’s knees.

Seat Depth

Back height

Vertically, measure from the bottom of the buttocks to the collarbone.

The typical back height of a wheelchair is 16 inches.

The height of the backrest will ultimately be determined by the user; if they have difficulty sitting upright, they may prefer a lower back.

They will generally want a lower back so their arms may move freely if they want to push themselves around in their wheelchair.

Back height

Front Seat height

The height of a wheelchair seat is determined by the user.

A higher seat is required for a taller wheelchair user.

Measure from the back of the heel to the back of the knee to determine seat height.

The individual’s ability to self-propel is also significant in selecting seat height.

Front Seat height

Back Seat Height

This is the distance between the ground and the top rear edge of the seat.

Depending on whether the wheelchair has a rearward seat angle slope, the back seat-to-floor height will be equal to or less than the front seat-to-floor height.

Back Seat Height

Armrest height

Measure vertically from the tip of the elbow to the top of the hips, with arms at 90 degrees.

Armrests with adjustable height are usually suggested.

Consider full-length armrests for users who will be undertaking stand-up pivot transfers.

Desk length armrests are the most common, allowing wheelchair users to come near to tables and desks.

Armrest height


Add at least 2 inches for floor space when measuring vertically from the back of the person’s knee to the heel of their foot.

Patients with edema, swelling, or injury should have leg rests that lock so they may extend and raise their legs.


Hanger Angle

This angle controls how the footrest will be positioned, as well as how far the toes will be from the body.

Individuals who have difficulty keeping their knees straight to the floor at 90 degrees between the floor and the top of the seat may prefer a gentler angle between 60 and 80 degrees so that their feet can rest further away from the chair.

Hanger Angle


This is the angle at which your large rear wheels will be inclined inward.

Most wheelchairs have three degrees of camber; however, some athletes use chairs with as much as 12 degrees of camber.



Most wheelchairs can support up to 250 or 300 pounds, but if the user weighs more, they should look into heavier-duty wheelchairs, like a bariatric wheelchair. 

Also crucial is the weight of the wheelchair itself – if the user is able to get out of their chair, they may choose one with a light frame so they can move it out of the way when not in use.


Measuring Tools

  • Make use of a metal retractable tape measure.
  • Clipboards and books can be used to help with correct measurement.
  • Large calipers are an extra tool that can be really helpful. These are easily constructed locally out of wood.
  • Foot-blocks can also be used to keep a wheelchair user’s feet at the proper height.

Please measure the individual when they are seated to ensure the most accurate measurements.

Our Thoughts

Everyone who uses a wheelchair has their own preferences.

They’ve even got their own budget.

Such considerations will influence the type of wheelchair to travel in. They will also establish the wheelchair’s dimensions.

Even so, any wheelchair you use should be able to get through the door.

They should be able to fit into small locations while still allowing for some movement.

An honest wheelchair should also be simple to use.

If you need such a wheelchair, you can always use the suggestions I’ve given you here.

There are numerous types of wheelchairs from which to choose at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different sizes of wheelchairs?

Standard wheelchairs widths are 16″ (narrow adult), 18″ (average adult) and 20″ (wide adult).

For children and small adult sizes as small as 8” are available. adults with wider body frames can get seats from 28” and wider.

What is the difference between a transport wheelchair and a standard wheelchair?

The biggest difference is that standard wheelchairs are designed with large wheels so that you can propel yourself, while transport wheelchairs have small wheels and are meant to be pushed from behind by a second person.

If you will always have another person around to push, you should buy a transport wheelchair.

What size door will a wheelchair fit through?

The correct size for a wheelchair user to be able to comfortably fit through a doorway is 32 inches wide.

Commonly, doorways are measured at about 23 to 27 inches; this would not be wide enough for a user to fit through.

How do elderly choose a wheelchair?

The best wheelchair for seniors depends on the wants and needs of the specific user.

If they will be travelling with the wheelchair frequently, a lightweight wheelchair would be a great choice.

How wide does a bathroom need to be for a wheelchair?

An accessible bathroom needs to be 30” x 48” for mobility devices in front of each plumbing fixture and room to turn around in a wheelchair.

Doorway will need to be widened for wheelchair access.

A door into bathroom should be a minimum of 34” wide for wheelchair users.