Correct Fit is Key to Safety, Health and Comfort
Is your mobility chair seat the right width, depth and height for your body type? Proper fit is essential to ensure wheelchair comfort, stability and safety. Before you get a wheelchair of any kind, make sure your seat is fitted properly and the chair is designed to meet your size and weight requirements.
A wheelchair seat that is too narrow is uncomfortable, can cause an increased incidence of pressure sores, and makes access more difficult for the caregiver, according to information by Wheelchairs: A Prescription Guide written by A. Bennett Wilson, Jr. and Samuel R. McFarland.
Conversely, Wilson and McFarland explain that a wheelchair seat that is too wide encourages you to lean in a single direction causing more pressure on one side of your soft tissues that come in contact with the chair.
You also increase the possibility of scoliosis. A seat that is too wide makes pushing the wheelchair more difficult and increases your risk of slipping out of the chair entirely.
The seat depth is also important because, if it is too deep, your leg circulation could be restricted. You also risk sliding forward or will find yourself sitting uncomfortably with your legs extended for support.
On the other hand, if a seat is too shallow and you don’t have enough area on which to sit, you will feel more pressure and discomfort from the soft tissues that come in contact with the seat. In addition, your footrests will not support your legs and feet properly.
The typical mobility chair seat is approximately 20 inches off the ground. The height of the seat needs to be adjusted based on an individual’s size (shorter or taller) to ensure proper fit, comfort and functionality.
Wilson and McFarland point out that many patients require seat cushions or chair pads, which are integral to the overall mobility system. Cushions can help adjust for proper seat height. They also serve a valuable purpose by relieving the pressure and pain from constant sitting.
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