Wheelchairs

Human beings are all different sizes and shapes and therefore have requirements for chairs and seating which reflects these differences. A chair, which is suitable for one person, may not be suitable for someone else. It is important that you sit in a chair for a while before purchasing in order to be sure you are comfortable and that the chair meets your needs.

  • You should be able to sit comfortably in your chair
  • Your spine should be firmly supported
  • Your bottom should rest against the base of the backrest so that you are fully supported
  • You should feel no pressure on the back of your calves, thighs or knees
  • Your feet should be supported, preferably on the floor to prevent pressure on your thighs
  • Your chair should be the height that enables you to get in and out of comfortably and without risk
  • When sitting comfortably in the chair you should not slide forward with your bottom, therefore leaving a gap between your lower back and the chair back. If this occurs your back is unsupported
  • The backrest should support you head in a comfortable position
  • Your arms should be supported comfortably without hunching your shoulders
  • The armrests should be long enough to provide support when getting in and out. The front edge of the armrest should be level with the front of the seat edge
  • The chair must not tip as you get in and out
  • You should be able to place your feet slightly under the edge of the chair to help you when standing up
  • The correct position for standing up should be with ‘nose over toes’
  • You should be able to change position and do things like reading or eating without slumping
  • If you need to elevate your feet then chairs are available with integral footrests

Points to consider when choosing a chair:

  • Seat Depth: If the seat is too deep you will not gain support from the backrest or seat cushion causing pressure and soreness behind the knees. If it is not deep enough the thighs will not be adequately supported. There should be 1″ (2.5cm) gap between the front edge of the seat and the back of the knee. If the seat is too short it will put pressure on the thighs and leave them unsupported
  • Seat Height: The higher the seat the shorter the distance you have to travel when standing up. If the seat is too high it will put pressure on the back of the thighs, as your feet will not sit correctly on the floor. When seated the angle at the hips should be no less than 90* and the feet flat on the floor. This means that the average person’s chair height would be 18” If the seat is too low it also leaves the thighs unsupported
  • Seat Width: The seat should be wide enough to allow for changes of position to relieve pressure points but the armrests must be sufficiently close to you to give proper support. If the armrests do not give this you will be adopting an asymmetrical position i.e. leaning to one side or sitting in a slumped position
  • Backrest Height: It is important that the backrest is high enough o support the head so that you can lean back comfortably. Winged backrests can provide support if you wish to sleep during the day
  • Armrest Height: Armrest height provides support when sitting and leverage to aid standing. Ensure that they give you comfortable support when sitting i.e. the shoulders should not be hunched or dropped. The front edge of the armrests should be level with the edge of the seat cushion and be easy to grip to aid standing up
  • Seat base: If the seat is soft it will be difficult to get out of. A firmer seat is much better
  • Armrests: These can be padded, semi padded or wooden? Thick padded armrests can be difficult to grip. Are the sides of the chair open? Filled in chairs can be warmer to sit in and prevent objects falling out of the chair
  • Covering: Do you need it to be washable. Vinyl chairs can be cold to the touch in winter and hot and sweaty in summer and can also be slippery making it difficult to maintain a good position
  • Backrest: A straight back gives no support for the lower spine and is more difficult to get out of
  • Recliner/ Footrest: Do you need to be able to recline in the chair? Do you need to elevate you legs i.e. do you have swollen feet? There are different combinations of such chairs i.e. Riser and reclining chairs, Riser only, recliner only, most of which can have an optional foot rest. The dual motor chairs will enable you to operate the recliner and footrest separately. The single motor operates the recliner and footrest together so that you can only have the footrest out if you are also reclined

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