Standard Wheelchair Measurements

There are several versions of standardized tools and templates to measure and document wheelchair and wheelchair component recommendations. One is included on this left hand side of this page as a handout.


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Average size (inches)

Procedures (Item # on W/C Seating Form - see handout)

Confirmation of Fit

Seat Height


11, 12 (add 2" for foot rests)

Foot plate 2" from floor; 2-3 fingers fit between thigh and seat upholstery

Seat Depth


5, (subtract 2" to avoid pressure behind knees)

2-3 fingers fit between front seat edge and popliteal fold

Seat Width



Easily slide hands between thighs and clothing guard on arm rest

Back Height


3, (subtract 4")

4 fingers fit under axilla and above upholstery

Armrest Height

9" above chair seat

4, (add ~1")

shoulders level when elbows are supported


Signs and Symptoms of Poor Fit

Wheelchair Prescription

A wheelchair is medical equipment, therefore, a trained professional should complete a thorough wheelchair assessment before a patient purchases a wheelchair. Wheelchair assessments can be complete by the PT OR the PTA. Depending on the setting and the patient's needs, OT, case management/case worker, and the wheelchair vendor will collaboratively complete the assessment.

In most cases, wheelchair prescriptions and evaluations are subject to approval or a prior authorization process before a wheelchair can be fitted and dispensed for long term use. The time to complete a prior authorization can take days to months. If the patient's medical plan does not find that the wheelchair prescription is medically necessary, the wheelchair will be denied for insurance eligibility. If approved delivery can take up to 3-4 months depending on customization needs.

Many patients have limits on what their insurance plan will cover for durable medical equipment (DME). Therefore the most appropriate wheelchair may remain financially inaccessible. Financial limitations may also prevent or limit modifications to the home setting to allow for wheelchair access. PTs and PTAs must be sensitive to external factors which limit optimal wheelchair prescriptions, and should advocate (through documentation and other communication) for systems and resources for wheelchair users to move freely and safely at home and in the community



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