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Wheelchair Seating & Positioning Guide

Demystifying the provision of wheelchair seating and positioning for healthcare professionals

By Ana Endsjo MOTR/L, CLT; Stacey Mullis, OTR/L ATP; and Lindsey Sharpe, PT, DTP,


his guide is intended to demystify the provision of wheelchair seating and positioning for healthcare professionals. The aim is to assist healthcare professionals in achieving optimal individualized wheelchair seating to meet the goals for each client by:

  • 1

    Understanding the qualifications for both manual and power wheelchairs

  • 2

    Identifying the abnormal postures and understanding how ill-fitting wheelchair components lead to postural abnormalities and pressure injuries

  • 3

    Understanding how to select the proper seating components

  • 4

    Identifying the key components to completing a successful wheelchair evaluation

Keep in mind this guide uses common therapy terms to keep the concepts as relatable as possible. For the most up-to-date, standardized wheelchair terms and definitions, see the “Glossary of Wheelchair Terms and Definitions” found:


Waugh, K; Crane, B; Taylor, S; Davis, K; Cwertnia, S; Brown, L; Saftler, F; Christie, S. Glossary of Wheelchair Terms and Definitions. Published by the University of Colorado, Assistive Technology Partners, through a grant from the Paralyzed Veterans Association. December, 2013.



  • ATP: Assistive Technology Professional

  • NP: Assistive Technology Professional

  • PA: Physician Assistant

  • LMN: Letter of Medical Necessity

  • DME: Durable Medical Equipment

  • CRT: Complex Rehab Technology

  • ROM: Range of Motion

  • ADLs: Activities of Daily Living

  • MRADLs: Mobility Related ADLs

  • MWC: Manual Wheelchair

  • PWC: Power Wheelchair

  • PPT: Posterior Pelvic Tilt

  • PSIS: Posterior Superior Iliac Spine

  • ASIS: Anterior Superior Iliac Spine

  • IT: Ischial Tuberosity

  • ELR: Elevating Leg Rest

  • STFH: Seat-to-Floor Height

  • LE: Lower Extremity

  • UE: Upper Extremity