How Do I Know What Size Wheelchair To Buy?

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Wheelchairs are ambulatory aids that help mobility-impaired individuals move about on their own or with assistance. Still, this isn’t to say you can choose any wheelchair for your loved ones without considering the category, size, and other essential details. These aspects help ensure that a device that truly improves user quality of life will be selected.

Today, we’ll give you an overview of the types of wheelchairs saturating the market today. Then, we’ll take a closer look at how wheelchair sizing works, so you can choose one that’s structured around the user’s health circumstance.

Types of Wheelchairs

Some will probably be surprised to know that the manual wheelchair isn’t their only option these days. With such a high demand for the different varieties of wheelchairs, manufacturers have gone as far as to produce models with more customizable options. Still, in most cases, a family’s need will usually be covered by any of the following wheelchair categories:

  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Ergonomic Wheelchairs
  • Lightweight Wheelchairs
  • Ultra Lightweight Wheelchairs
  • Transport Wheelchairs
  • Standard Wheelchairs
  • Tilt Wheelchairs
  • Recliner Wheelchairs
  • Bariatric Wheelchairs
  • Active Wheelchairs
  • Standing Wheelchairs

Depending on the user’s needs, he or she may find one type of wheelchair more advantageous than the others.

How to Choose the Correct Size Wheelchair

According to, selecting a wheelchair of the right size means assessing the following:

1. Seat Width

As far as wheelchair size goes, you first have to look at the seat width because there’s a particular size that meets each user’s needs.

In common wheelchair varieties, there are 16, 18, and 20-inch seat widths. You may also come across models that only have 18-inch versions.

If it’s a pediatric wheelchair you’re looking for, know that their average seat width is 14 inches. Then, there’s the bariatric wheelchair with seat widths that can reach 30 inches.

2. Seat Depth

The wheelchair seat’s width is measured from side to side, while the seat depth is its measurement from front to back. To find out if a wheelchair has the right seat depth, measure the distance between the user’s pelvis and shins while he or she is sitting straight.

In case you have an old wheelchair that was comfortable for you to use, you can refer to that to find out the right seat depth for your new wheelchair.

3. Height From Seat to Floor

The ideal seat-to-floor measurement would be one that doesn’t allow the user’s feet to dangle in mid-air or drag on the floor. That tells you the height from seat to floor is either too low or too high.

However, if the user is used to moving about using his or her feet, it might be best to get a lower measurement than what’s presumed.

4. Back Height

Measure the backrest from top to bottom to get the correct back height for a wheelchair. For this wheelchair feature, you may use accessories to extend the backrest’s top portion to increase the back height.

5. Armrests

When it comes to armrest length, there are two options to choose from: full length and desk length. With full-length armrests, users get extra arm support, while desk-length armrests allow them better access to desks and tables.

In some wheelchairs, you may get features such as removable arms or flip-backs. These make transferring easier for users.

6. Leg Rests

Leg rests are yet another feature that has two categories. This time around, you have the elevating and swing-away style to select from. The former allows you to rotate the leg rests to the user’s side to get on and off the wheelchair easily.

With the elevating leg rests, you get the added advantage of a calf pad to help prevent swelling by raising the user’s legs. In both models, you can remove the leg rests.

7. Adjustable Backrest

If you’re particular about adjusting the back height of your wheelchair now and then, you have the option to choose a model that can make this easier for you. There are wheelchairs with adjustable backrests ideal for both too-tall or too-short users.

8. Dual Axle

This type of wheelchair allows you to adjust your wheelchair from standard to hemi height. The hemi height is about a couple of inches lower than the standard. It also gives the users the option to propel themselves forward using their feet.

9. Quick Release Wheels

If you’re looking for an easy-to-transport wheelchair, pick one with a quick-release button for the rear wheels. That is something a user who travels a lot should consider getting.

Selecting the Right Wheelchair Size

Choosing the correct size wheelchair will mostly center on seat width, seat depth, back height, and seat-to-floor height. Get these four right, and you’ll get exactly what you need from this ambulatory aid for the most part.

Still, depending on your particular circumstance and personal preferences, some, if not all, the other factors for wheelchair selection may come into play.


Welcome to the Night Helper Blog. The Night Helper Blog was created in 2008. Since then we have been blessed to partner with many well-known Brands like Best Buy, Fisher Price, Toys "R" US., Hasbro, Disney, Teleflora, ClearCorrect, Radio Shack, VTech, KIA Motor, MAZDA and many other great brands. We have three awesome children, plus four adorable very active grandkids. From time to time they too are contributors to the Night Helper Blog. We enjoy reading, listening to music, entertaining, travel, movies, and of course blogging.

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