It's important for the wheelchair to be fitted properly and be as narrow as possible while maintaining comfort and safety. This will insure the best performance for navigating tight areas both inside the home as well out in public spaces.
A wheelchair that is too narrow or too wide can cause discomfort. When too narrow, a wheelchair can become restrictive and increase the likelihood of pressure sores, while when it's too wide, becomes more difficult to push due to the angle of the arms from the shoulders to the wheels.
To determine the necessary seat width, measure the rider's widest area of the body and add one inch. This will allow for optimum seat width while maintaining ideal usability, comfort and safety.
To determine the appropriate seat height, measure from the bend of the knee to the bottom of the foot. Subtract the height of the seat cushion if one is being used. If the wheelchair is not being self propelled by the feet, also add about 2 inches to allow for foot clearance.
The rear of the seat is generally set at lower height than the front of the seat to prevent sliding forward.
The greater the camber angle, the further the distance between the bottom of the rear wheels and the closer the distance between the top of the wheels. Increasing the camber angle provides the rider with increased maneuverability and stability, but also increases the overall width of the wheelchair.
Typically 0-3 degrees of camber is considered standard for everyday use to accommodate narrow doorways and aisles. A higher camber angle is useful for sporting activities such as basketball where added stability and maneuverability is desired.
There are various types of wheel locks available:
1. Push-to-lock wheel locks are the most common. The break is engaged by the rider pushing forward and applying pressure with the palm of their hand until the lever snaps into position.
2. Pull-to-lock wheel locks work in the same manner as the push-to-pock except the lever is pulled forward. For some riders, it may be easier because it does not require as much upper body mobility needed to push the lever away from the body.
3. Swing-away, low-mount and under-mount wheel locks work in different ways depending on the style. These wheel locks help you avoid hitting your thumbs when pushing directly on the tires by mounting the wheel locks away from this range of motion. Due to its location, some riders with limited mobility may not be able to engage these wheel locks.
Wheel lock extensions provide a greater lever arm to apply and remove the locking mechanism, making the wheel locks easier to engage for a rider with decreased upper strength.