How to Measure for Properly Fitting Wheelchair Components

The following guidelines will help you to conduct a successful seating evaluation.

Guideline for a Successful Seating Evaluation 
  • Conduct your evaluation as you would any other OT/PT eval in the nursing home to determine the functional needs of the resident
  • Assess limitations in ROM, strength, balance, and endurance and how they negatively affect posture in the wheelchair
  • Is there a postural abnormality? Decide if that postural abnormality is flexible or fixed: should your goal be to correct or accommodate for it?
  • Choose an appropriate wheelchair model that allows for adjustability, seat cushion, back support, head support, and accessories to address the resident's physical limitations.
  • Use the measurements form provided to take key measurements.
  • Match the wheelchair size to the resident's dimensions to ensure a proper fit.

*Don't forget to look for hip contractures and tight hamstrings during the evaluation. They are often the culprits of poor pelvic positioning!


4 Important Measuring Tips

  • All measurements should be taken while sitting on a firm, flat surface in the posture the therapist is trying to accomplish for the resident.
  • Measure using a hard measuring tape, not one that can bend and wrap around the patient's body. That will lead to measurement errors, adding circumference or length.
  • All measurements should be taken straight across the body.
  • Use a measurement form to remind you of the measurements needed to be taken and to record them properly.
Measuring Guide

How to Measure for Properly Fitting Wheelchair Component

How to Measure for Properly Fitting Wheelchair Component

If time is a constraint, the four measurements you MUST do are:

  • Hip Width (C)
  • Seat to Top of Shoulder (G)
  • Upper Leg Length (K)
  • Lower Leg Length (L)

These will allow you to match a wheelchair, including a cushion and back support, to your resident.

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