Measure for Wheelchair
How to take simple wheelchair measurements.

How to Measure For Wheelchair

Wheelchair Dimensions

Wheelchair Dimensions:

Overall widths and other dimensions vary across several categories of wheelchairs. Anyone purchasing a wheelchair should be concerned with some of the basic dimensions such as overall width and the seat size. You should begin by scouting out the lay-of-the-land. Do this by identifying the smallest and narrowest doorways, passage ways, elevators, or whatever you can think of or visualize that will be part of your day. Around the home it's usually a bathroom door or narrow hallway that limits access. Heavier users with wider chairs may see obstacles at every turn.

For most chairs, use these formulas to determine the overall width of a wheelchair:
  • Transport Wheelchair: Seat Width + 3".
  • Standard Folding Wheelchair: Seat Width + 8".
  • Reclining Wheelchairs: Seat Width + 8".
  • Bariatric Wheelchairs: Seat Width + 8".

Standard wheelchair with 18" wide seat would be: 18" seat width + 8" = 26" overall width).

More detailed information on selecting frame style, back style, front rigging and upholstery see Wheelchair Option Descriptions.

Consult with each product's specifications page to get exact dimensions.

How to measure for correct wheelchair size:

Who needs to measure?
Measuring for Transport Wheelchair, standard wheelchairs and most lightweight wheelchairs need only the seat width & depth. In some cases, for those patients wanting to propel the chair with their feet, the seat-to-floor height.

Helping you configure:
Some wheelchairs have detailed configuration information and require additional measurements. To help you through the configuration process we have provided the Seating Chart below to help with various menu selections and choices. In addition, this information may be needed when calling-in your order.

Write this down:
Get a piece of paper & pencil and write down these simple measurements. You can also print this page and fill in the blanks. An easy way to measure seat width is to place a book on each side of the hips while seated then measure the distance between the books. You might allow an additional inch if the user wears a heavy coat in the winter.

How to buy a wheelchair:

Narrow Selection to Type of Chair.
Choose your wheelchair based on patient and caregiver needs. If you know you will always push the patient you may only require a lightweight Transport. Standard wheelchairs with larger rear wheels will be required for the patient to propel themselves. Ultra-lightweight, Sports, Reclining and tilt-in-space wheelchairs can be configured on our website.

Configure the Chair.
Most wheelchair product pages allow you to configure. Select the seat width & depth along with any other information as required. Know patient's basic seat measurements before you begin your order.

Use this form to record your measurements:

Note about "Overall Wheelchair Width": For most folding standard weight and lightweight wheelchairs the overall width of the chair (outside wheel to outside wheel) is determined by adding 8" to the seat width. Transport chairs generally add 0-3" to seat width, depending on wheelchair model. << Click here to print this seat chart >>

Your info:

Patient Weight:
Patient Height:
Patient Diagnosis. Optional - for PHC Customer Service

Seat width. See # 3 in wheelchair diagram below. This is the width of the back-side when sitting on a flat surface:
Seat Depth. Make this measurements by measuring from back of buttock to inside of knee as in "C" below:
Back height. Measure this from the top of the shoulders down to the bottom of the back-side when sitting on a flat surface. See "B" below:
Seat-to-Floor Height. Make this measurement as pictured in "D". This is important if the patient is going to propel the wheelchair using feet. Otherwise, wheelchairs are available in various seat heights.

Wheelchair Measuring Guide

Wheelchair Size:

Use this seating chart to determine correct chair size. If measuring for a standard wheelchair you will simply need to know the users seat width and depth. When measuring for a Custom or Rehab wheelchair, seat width, seat depth, back height, and seat-to-floor height are crucial to configuring the wheelchair correctly.

Seat-to-floor height is important if the patient is going to propel the wheelchair with their feet. Seat-to-floor height can be adjusted down approximately 2" by choosing a chair with dual-axles. On adjustable height chairs with dual axles the front forks have several holes to allow moving the front wheels (casters) up or down a few inches. The combination of these adjustments allow for about 2.5 inches of adjustment in seat-to-floor height.

Standard seat-to-floor height for a wheelchair is 18" to 20". Hemi-Height is 17.5 to 18.5- inches and varies somewhat with manufacturers. Anything lower to the ground is either a "super" or "ultra" Hemi. In some cases to achieve a lower seat-to-floor height the rear wheels are changed from the standard 24-inch to either a 22 or 20-inch. The front casters are also changed from a standard 8-inch to a 6 or 5-inch. Remember: if you are adding a cushion to a wheelchair allow that differential (you'll be adding approx. 2" to seat height.)

Wheelchair Weight:

Question: Do you know the difference between a standard weight and a lightweight wheelchair?
Answer: The difference can be as much as 15-lbs. or more.


Overall weight is definitely a consideration if the wheelchair is going to be transported in a car trunk, backseat, or propelled by an individual. Some steel framed chairs approach 50-lbs. and can be too difficult to propel, carry, or lift. More popular lightweight wheelchairs range in weight from from 28-lbs to 36-lbs and are easier to lift into a car trunk.


The patient's condition may determine the weight of a chair. For instance, if a patient has suffered a stroke, has limited mobility, arthritis, or is encumbered in any other way, they may not be able to propel a heavier chair; however, this same patient may be able to propel a lightweight chair.


Accessories such as Anti-Tippers are appropriate when a patient is very active and there is a risk of falling backward.

Seat belts: A seat belt will help prevent a patient from sliding down or out of a chair.
Brake extensions:

Brake extensions are recommended for ease of use, particularly with patients who have weak hand strength, Arthritis or similar conditions.

Positioning Devices: Cushions, laterals, lap trays, back supports, and many other similar devices can appropriately position a patient in a chair.

Get help with purchasing a wheelchair. Call us 866-722-4581. Our office hours are 8:30am.-5:30pm. CST. When calling after office hours leave a message and phone number and we will promptly return your call the next business day.

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