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How Wide Are Wheelchairs?

How Wide Are Wheelchairs?
May 11, 2018

These days, wheelchairs come in all shapes and sizes. And no matter what your requirements, you should be able to find a solution that works for you.

When it comes to deciding on a wheelchair, it’s important to understand what dimensions you need, including the width. And when measuring the width of a wheelchair, there are two different aspects to look at. Let’s take a closer look.

Overall width

If your wheelchair is for indoor use, then this really is the most important measurement to look at. Make sure you determine and compare the width of your wheelchair to the doorways and entrances in your home. That includes hallways, front and back doors, and any other entrances you’ll need to negotiate at home.

Standard-sized wheelchairs are designed to fit through the most standard-sized doorways. However, if you happen to have narrow doorways or require a wider-than-average wheelchair, this could cause a problem. This emphasises the importance of checking (and even double-checking) these measurements before you buy a wheelchair.  

  • Manual wheelchair overall width ranges from 23″ to 39″ / 59cm to 99cm
  • Transit manual wheelchairs overall width – can be as narrow as 18.5″ / 47cm

Seat width only

You’ll also need to make sure that the width of the seat itself is suitable for you or the individual who’ll be using it, as well as considering the depth. When it comes to checking the size of the seat, just bear in mind that the width measurements listed reflect the space between armrests, rather than the actual upholstered seat. Here’s how you make sure you get a wheelchair with the correct width for the user:

  • Seat width: Measure the user’s hip with, and check that the seat width is approximately 1″ – 2″ wider than that
  • Seat depth: In a seated position, measure from the back of the user’s hip to the back of the knee. You should look for a wheelchair seat depth that is approximately 1” less than that.

Bariatric wheelchairs are wider

For larger users, standard-sized wheelchairs can feel really cramped and horribly uncomfortable, and this can make it much more difficult to get around. If this situation sounds familiar, then a bariatric wheelchair could be the answer. They come with all the benefits of a standard-sized wheelchair, but they’re designed with larger users in mind, so you don’t have to compromise on your comfort or independence. If you struggle to move the wheelchair yourself, then powered wheelchairs may be your solution.

Not only are the overall dimensions (including the seat width) increased, but the seats and backs of bariatric wheelchairs also come with additional reinforcement. For your comfort and support, they’re made from heavyweight materials and the seat and backrests can be titled to adjust to your individual centre of gravity.

Just bear in mind that the bigger size means they may not fit through all doorways, and it could be a struggle to get them into the back of small cars. So once again, this is why it’s so important to measure up before you commit to buying.

Economical wheelchairs

If you’ve got limited storage space, at home or in the car, then you should also consider other measurements – such as folded width, overall length and overall height. Remember, the total length will be smaller when the leg rests are removed

Pride I-Go folded powerchair

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