Seating and Other Chair Components

As you learn about all the different options that are available, it is important to think about what you actually need. Some options, such as leg and foot supports that can be elevated, may be inconvenient — unless you really need them. Talk with an occupational therapist or physical therapist to decide what you want to include. Then, to be certain your new chair will meet your needs, talk with your vendor about what options are available with each type and model of chair.

Some points to consider

Is the wheelchair frame:

  • Lightweight, for easy pushing and lifting?
  • Heavy duty, for use by a person who:
    Weighs more than 250 pounds, has severe tone issues, or is very active?
  • A “tilt-in-space” frame?
  • A reclining frame?
  • Low to the floor, so that the user has enough head space when riding in a van? So that transfers are safe and easy?
  • Able to support attachments, such as oxygen tank, ventilator, suction machine, or mounting system for a communication device?

Are the armrests:

  • Removable for easier transfers?
  • Height adjustable to support a lap tray?
  • Desk-length to allow getting close to tables and desks?
  • Able to flip back so it is easier to reach wheels?

Are the leg and foot supports:

  • Removable?
  • Swing-away to assist in transferring?
  • Able to be elevated?
  • Provided with a fixed front end forusers with excessive tone?

Are the foot plates:

  • Adjustable as to the angle?
  • Available in different sizes?
  • Metal or high-density plastic?
  • Provided with heel or toe loops?
  • Able to flip-up?

Are the rear wheels:

  • 12″, 20″, or 24″ size? Other sizes are available for specific requirements –Ask your Advanced Mobility Representative for further details.
  • Solid tires or pneumatic tires?
  • Provided with hand rims for selfwheelers?
  • Solid, pneumatic, or semi-pneumatic?

Are the front casters:

  • 5″, 6″, or 8″ size? Other sizes are available for specific requirements –Ask your Advanced Mobility Representative for further details.
  • Solid, pneumatic, or semi-pneumatic?

Why use special seating?

Supporting the pelvis:

  • Solid, firm seats provide a stable surface for the pelvis.
  • Contoured seate help to center pelvis.
  • Anti-thrust seats help keep the pelvis from sliding forward.
  • Hip guides and abductors help align hips and thighs.
  • Gel seats, air filled cushions or special foams help prevent pressure sores.
  • Lap belts are used to keep hips back on the seat.

Supporting the trunk:

  • Firm, solid backrest supports the trunk from behind and discourages rounded posture.
  • Contouring of the backrest may be needed to add lumbar support, provide room for bony prominence or to accomplish scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis.
  • Lateral trunk supports are used to maintain centered trunk position.
  • Chest straps, cummerbunds, axillary straps and shoulder retractors provide anterior support for the trunk.

Supporting the head:

  • Headrests, collars and halo or headband systems provide head and neck support from behind, to either side or from the front. There are many styles available commercially and custom modification can be provided if needed.

Supporting the feet:

Shoe guides with straps maintain alignment of feet on foot pedals. • Foot Boxes or ankle straps maintain feet on foot pedals.


  • Commercial trays are available and to some degree can be customized.
  • Custom trays can be made from materials such as wood, HDPE (high density polyethylene), and clear acrylics.
  • Custom trays can be
    • rimmed or rimless
    • designed to hold communication sheets
    • designed with cut outs to hold communication devices, cups, etc.
    • designed to protect a power wheelchair joystick
    • designed to accommodate communication aids on mounting systems
    • fabricated with padding in designated area

Examples of Custom Seating:

  • Linear seating systems offer a solid seat, solid back, trunk supports, hip guides, and an abductor.
  • ROHO cushions (air filled) for pressure relief.
  • Jay seat – Many feature gel pad atop solid foam base. A protective cover would go over both for cleaning and protection.
  • Ride Designs offer complete custom pressure relieving seating systems with dynamic designs.
  • Silhouette technology allows computer assisted design of custom fits seat and back cushions which provide comfort and pressure relief.
  • Contour molding chair: Client sits in this chair to be molded for custom fit cushions and backs.
  • Custom Contour seat and back cushions provide firm support and control.


How do I know what equipment is right for me?

An experienced therapist can be very helpful in this process.

tarting with a thorough Needs Assessment we clarify and quantify the most important features and functions you require and want and match the equipment best suited to you instead of trying to get you to fit to the equipment. With the help of a registered Occupational Therapist and an experienced Equipment Specialist, going through the proper motions of the equipment selection process, equipment trial process, delivery and set-up, you will feel confident in knowing you have the equipment that is wright for you.