As we continue our conversation about the K0005 ultra lightweight wheelchair, our focus turns to configuring a K0005 wheelchair. So far we've discussed seat-to-floor height, seat slope, ergo seat, foot support-to-length, and front frame angle. Today we're looking at seat width and front seat width.
Measuring the appropriate seat width is critical for postural stability and propulsion efficiency, as well as optimizing accessibility
Seat width measurement
Wheelchair measurement is from the outside to outside of seat tubes at the back post. This should match the client's anatomical measurement.
The anatomical measurement is across the widest part of the body, usually from one greater trochanter to the other, including residual tissue.
- The seat width will also affect the overall width of the wheelchair, which includes the width of the wheels and handrims in addition to the seat.
Seat width - too narrow
On the lateral aspect of the hips and postural this can lead to unwanted pressure and postural abnormalities due to compensation
Seat width - too wide
This can make it difficult to access the handrims and result in inefficient propulsion which can cause upper extremity injuries over time. It can also result in poor posture due to lack of support from improper fit.
Negatively affects environmental accessibility and positioning/posture in the WC
Front Seat Width
This measurement allows you to taper the front of the seat to match the client's posture. Front seat width can also be referred to as front seat taper.
Not all client's need to have a tapered seat. However, clients whose LEs are much narrower than their hips may benefit from front seat taper to:
- Provide better LE positioning with better overall WC fit and stability
- Allow the ability to get closer to things for transfers and reaching
- Provide a smaller overall footprint for accessibility
- "See me, not the wheelchair"
Front seat width measurement
WC measurement is inside of front frame tube to inside of opposite front frame tube.
Anatomical measurement is the width across the client's legs across the distal end of the femurs, proximal to the knees. This width should match the front seat width measurement.
Stacey Mullis, OTR/ATP
Director of Clinical Marketing
Stacey serves as Director of Clinical Marketing for Permobil. A practicing OTR for over 20 years, she has experience in school-based pediatrics, inpatient rehabilitation, long term care, and home health. With her interest in wheelchair seating and positioning, Stacey engaged the challenges of providing appropriate seating in various clinical settings. She now uses this experience to develop programs and resources to educate clinicians on the principles of seating and wheeled mobility. She is passionate about equipping clinicians and through her previous role as Director of Clinical Education with Comfort Company and now with Permobil she has taught nationally and internationally to increase therapist capacity in this specialty area. Mullis graduated from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada with a BA Linguistics and BSc Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the NCOTA, CTF Executive Board, NRRTs, RESNA, and AOTA.
Ginger Walls, PT, MS, NCS, ATP/SMS
Director of Clinical Sales and Education
Ginger has 25 years of experience as a physical therapist in the area of neuro rehab and wheelchair seating/mobility. She directed the Outpatient therapy clinics and the Seating/Mobility Program at Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Ginger has provided a variety of continuing education courses and lectures in the area of seating/mobility for many years. She has presented at major industry conferences including ISS, RESNA, and the PVA Summit. Ginger took on the role of Clinical Education Specialist for Permobil in 2015 and was appointed Director of Clinical Sales and Education in 2020.