Wheelchair Width: Standard Sizes, Measurements & More


Wheelchairs are a type of sturdy medical device that enhances mobility. Here is a comparison of many wheelchair types to aid you in making a choice.

A women with Wheelchair

Wheelchairs or mobility scooters are robust, durable medical equipment that significantly improves a person’s independence and movement.

Width is crucial when choosing a wheelchair, so pay close attention. This is essential for a person’s joint health and ability to move their chairs.

We will review several wheelchair models, how they compare, and methods you can use to make your doorways more accessible. Keep reading!

Width of Wheelchairs

The size of your wheelchair is essential for comfort and movement inside your home. Consider the following models when purchasing one for your home.

Type of Wheelchair | Width (inches)

Manual Wheelchair16-20”
Power Wheelchair17-33”
Transport Wheelchair19-25”

Manual Wheelchairs

manual wheelchair

The most popular kind of wheelchair in which users must propel themselves using bars on the chair’s rims is called a manual wheelchair.

A caregiver can also push manual wheelchairs by pushing them from behind. The standard wheelchair width for manual wheelchairs is from 16 to 20 inches wide.

While standard wheelchairs have a standard size of 18″ wide, the narrowest wheelchair is 16″ wide. The largest seating option for adults is a chair that is 20″ broad.

For a user of bigger seat size, wide adult chairs merely provide a little ample space on the sides. The best wheelchairs for the elderly can be found on this page.

TIP: Installing offset hinges on doors will cause the existing door to swing away and exit the door frame completely. Offset hinges provide 2 to 3 inches of clear space for your narrow existing door. Because they are inexpensive, offset hinges on doors are one of the most popular options. You may also remove the entire door or door trim to increase the doorway or have enough clearance.

Power Wheelchairs

Power Wheelchair

Wheelchair users can travel more easily with the help of a power wheelchair. Because of this, there may be a considerable variety in sizes.

These wheelchairs may be heavier to support individuals with more severe mobility restrictions, but that does not usually imply bigger seats.

A wheelchair’s overall width may not always be accurately calculated by adding 8″ to the width due to variations in the structure and frame of this particular model.

Discover the best lightweight wheelchairs here.

NOTE: The standard size can range from 17 to 33 inches. Most standard wheelchairs are about 25 inches wide. Larger wheelchairs might not fit through tight corners or standard doorways (32 inches door), even if most standard wheelchairs can. However, you can try to get another wheelchair that accommodates your existing doorway sizes.

Transport Wheelchairs

Transport Wheelchair

Transport chairs are often narrower and lighter than normal wheelchairs, allowing for easier maneuverability through narrow doorways or tight spaces.

Generally, narrow transport chairs can be as narrow as 19 inches depending on the cushion size and the weight capacity. It has a wheelchair width of 23 to 25 inches.

You can increase the average seat width by 5 inches for transport chairs to obtain the ideal wheelchair width.

Even a 30-inch door width shouldn’t challenge you to get through with transport wheelchairs. Here is a list of the best transport wheelchairs.NOTE: What is the most narrow wheelchair, and can a wheelchair fit through standard doors? The narrowest wheelchair is 21 inches wide or slightly wider. It can fit through a standard door width (32 inches clear width doorway).

How to Measure a Wheelchair

Measure a Wheelchair

Nothing is more crucial regarding wheelchairs than ensuring the user is a great fit for the chair.

It can become unpleasant for the owner, especially over time, if any chair component is overly long, short, wide, or narrow.

  1. Getting Seat Measurements – The wheelchair user’s hip size should be determined. Before taking the measurement, sit the subject straight. Measurement should be taken at the widest part of the person’s hips. Please calculate their leg length from the person’s back to their kneeling leg. The depth of the chair will be determined using this measurement. Add approximately 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) to make this length more comfortable. Estimate the distance between the subject’s hips and shoulders. Calculate the user’s back to the top of their shoulder blades when seated. This will determine the wheelchair’s back height. Find the user’s chest’s broadest point to determine its width. This is normally the length directly from under one armpit to the other. This will determine the right size on how wide the seat back will need to be.

Measuring for Other Components – Take the length from the back of the user’s heel to the user’s knee. Measure the back of the user’s knee for the most accurate results. This will decide the height of the seat of the wheelchair as well as the length of the leg rest extension. When obtaining this measurement, ensure the individual is seated, and their arms are at a 90-degree angle. Estimate the exact distance between the person’s elbow’s point and the top of their hips. This will determine the armrest’s height concerning the seats. Measure the user’s hips to the top of their head if necessary. If the user is wearing a headrest, this dimension will be required. Use the length from the person’s rear to the top of their head in a sitting position to take this measurement. If it has weight restrictions, consider the user weight. The maximum weight most wheelchairs on the market can support safely is restricted. Find the best wheelchair cushions right here!

Factors That Affect Wheelchair Width

Wheelchair Width

There are a lot of important factors you should consider when purchasing it.

By reading the following, you can understand what’s available, what to look for, and what to think about before purchasing.

Seat Width

Wheelchair seat width

Seat width, the distance between armrests, and depth make up a seat’s dimensions (the distance from the backrest to the front edge of the seat.)

Wheelchairs are available with seats that range in width from 14 to 20 inches, with 18 inches being the most popular. Seat depths might vary as well.

Therefore the wheelchair user should sit up straight in a normal active position before taking the measurement.

The “Product Specifications” section lists the seat width and depth on most mobility equipment vendor websites.

Armrests

armrests

Try out the wheelchair arm pads before making a purchase. Before weighing them, be sure they are solid and stable.

Some armrests can swing out of the way to make getting in and out of it easier.

Footrests

Footrests

Leg rests offer the user additional support and comfort, much like armrests do.

They come in many different designs, but the most crucial thing to decide is whether you want the leg rests on swinging or adjusting because this will affect how easily you can move it.

Seat heights also impact the wheelchair’s footrests because if the user’s feet are too low, they might be unable to pass over small impediments like door thresholds.

User Height

User Height

Before purchasing a wheelchair, regardless of size, examine whether the accouterments can be adjusted for height.

Shorter wheelchair users need adjustable footrests, and taller users typically need a deeper seat.

Weight

You should take into account the wheelchair’s weight capability in addition to its physical dimensions.

Wheelchairs typically weigh 35 to 60 pounds or more. Additionally, transport chairs weigh up to 35 pounds.

Usage Type

Choosing a manual or electric wheelchair is one of your first decisions. A motorized one is the best option if you struggle with mobility over the long term.

A manual can be your best choice if you occasionally need a chair or have temporary lower back issues. These wheelchairs are the finest for outdoor use.TIP: Before any work on extending the door opening can be done, you must remove doors: light switches, electrical wire inside the wall, electric sockets, and plumbing pipes next to doors. Once the door has been removed, you can replace the door with curtains or other options that offer privacy. You can also widen the door frames. You might need to cut a new aperture in your sheetrock wall if removing the trim and door does not make the doorway usable.

How to Choose the Right Wheelchair Width

Right Wheelchair Width

Finding the correct size might be difficult because there is no one-size-fits-all option for choosing wheelchairs for seniors.

Residents who spend the majority of their time in a wheelchair require seating that is tailored to their bodies, even though stock wheelchairs may occasionally be used for short-term mobility.

A. Consider Your Needs

Awkward seating is uncomfortable for a healthy individual but can harm elders’ health.

Identifying the resident’s ideal wheelchair body size and mobility needs is the first step in selecting the right wheelchair.

Body Size

The person’s bum should be back in the seat, making contact with the wheelchair back.

Their thighs should be parallel to the ground, and their knees should be aligned with their hips (not above or below).

Mobility Requirements

Wheelchair users require a wheelchair that fits them properly and satisfies their individual needs to ensure efficient movement.

B. Measurements

All fields should be measured to guarantee maximum comfort and safety.

Measuring the Seat

You should carefully calculate the seat width, back height, seat depth, and seat-to-floor height.

You can prevent some of the most prevalent and deadly placement issues by supplying a wheelchair with the right size in these four areas.

All fields should be measured to guarantee maximum comfort and safety.

Measuring the Total Width

The resident’s hip width is calculated from the broadest place on their hips or thighs. Then include 1″. Finally, increase the side cushion thickness. (if a cushion is used).NOTE: The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a federal statute forbidding discrimination against anybody with a disability. The ADA Standards govern how wide doorways must be in public buildings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are you curious about the breadth of a wheelchair? The following list of frequently asked questions is provided.

What Is the Standard Width of a Wheelchair?

The wheelchair’s width, as measured by the outside of the rear wheels, is 26 inches (660 mm), as seen in the plan view of a person using it.

The wheelchair is 42 inches (1065 mm) long when measured from the front of the footrests to the back of the rear wheels.

What Is the Maximum Width of a Wheelchair That Is Available?

Power wheelchairs start at 23 inches from the tire to the tire, whereas most standard wheelchair sizes run from 25 to 36 inches in width.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards recommend that the doorway width be at least 32 inches wide.

For most individuals, standard doors (32 inches or 30 inches of doorways) are more than sufficient for standard wheelchair access.

Are There Any Wheelchairs Specifically Designed for Wider Users?

Yes. Bariatric wheelchairs, also known as extra wide wheelchairs or heavy-duty wheelchairs, have diameters that may accommodate users up to 30″ and a higher weight capacity of 700 lbs.

These heavy-duty chairs come with a large chair and cushion size, which might be the only option for heavy users.

Are There Any Other Alternatives for Wider Users?

Yes. Rollators and walkers are options for them. Rollators frequently have seats, letting users stop for brief rests as needed.

Seniors who already use a wheelchair as their primary form of mobility may find a walker or rollator a useful auxiliary device.

What Sizes of Wheelchairs Are Available?

Wheelchairs come in a wide range of wheelchair sizes but may differ between types: sports wheelchairs, transport wheelchairs, motorized wheelchairs, and manual wheelchairs.

What Distinguishes a Power Wheelchair From Electric Mobility Scooters?

With a power chair, a person can steer with just their fingertips. Handlebars, or “tillers,” are used to steer electric mobility scooters, calling for additional upper body muscle.

What Distinguishes Normal Wheelchairs From Heavy-Duty Wheelchairs?

A standard wheelchair can accommodate a weight total of 250–300 lbs. Some powerful wheelchairs have a higher weight capacity of 700 lbs.

They cost more than standard wheelchairs since they require special reinforcement braces.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is much to learn about how wide is a wheelchair and why it matters when choosing a wheelchair for regular usage.

Whatever wheelchair you select, it’s critical to consider how well the wheelchair fit your body and how comfortable it will be in various settings.

If you don’t pay attention to the wheelchair’s overall width, you may have a slightly broader model than a standard wheelchair. It’s usually best if you have doors that are 32 inches wide.

Make sure it is wide enough to accommodate your body comfortably and for you to move around the room and go through doorways safely.