What is the Width of a Standard Wheelchair?

Do you know what is the width of a standard wheelchair? This article will answer this and several other queries that you may have about wheelchairs.

The average width of a standard wheelchair is dependent on various aspects, such as the measure across the user’s hips, extra available space for clothing, and enough space to allow a person to shift their position comfortably.

Well, as per experts, 28 inches is the width of a standard wheelchair, and the seat height is between 20 and 21 inches from the ground.

 

standard wheelchair width
A standard wheelchair is width 28 inches, meant to fit through a 32 inch doorway

A wheelchair is a piece of medical equipment that assists a patient in moving comfortably if they are unable to. Thus, a professional needs to assess a wheelchair before the patient uses it. 

Well, different kinds of wheelchairs are designed to cater to a patient’s needs. You can get heavy-duty wheelchairs suitable for bariatric users, and then there are pediatric wheelchairs ideal for kids.

Getting a wheelchair to your house can raise many questions. You may even need to change things around the house. The foremost question that faces a user is how he will enter the house with a wheelchair? 

Will the wheelchair be able to enter the door, and will it be easy to navigate the home with the wheelchair? Would there be any places or doors that would become inaccessible in the house? Let us read further to get better solutions to these questions.

 

Also Read: Best Wheelchair for Scoliosis

What Should Be The Size Of The Door To Accommodate A Wheelchair?

Usually, in our house, the standard size of the door is about 23 to 27 inches. But, it is not enough to accommodate a wheelchair as a standard manual wheelchair is 27 to 28 inches. So, for the wheelchair to access, at least the door size should be 32 inches from the door’s face to the opposite stop.

While buying a wheelchair, if you are not planning to resize your doorway or house, you should always consider some of these facts:

  1. What is the size of your doorways, be it interior or exterior?
  2. Are there any tight corners where you will have difficulty turning the wheelchair?
  3. If you think your doorway is wide enough, can you enter it without turning your wheelchair?
  4. What if there is some break or separation in the flooring or some single stairs used to get access to different rooms? Then, you should get a small ramp to accommodate the wheelchair.

 

Read More about: How Much Does a Wheelchair Cost?

 

Wheelchair Width in A Commercial Area

Commercial buildings should ensure that they have passageways broad enough to accommodate 28-inch wide wheelchairs. 

Walkway Sizes For Wheelchairs

Department store aisles and walkways should be at least three feet wide. The end of the aisle should have a 3x3 feet space so that the wheelchair can turn easily. Similarly, checkout counters should not be more than 34 inches tall and 36 inches long.

The last part of the checkout area must be at least 36 x 48 inches so that wheelchair users can turn easily when moving out of the queue.

Do you know How to Push a Wheelchair up a Steep Ramp?

Counter Heights For Wheelchairs

Counter heights should ideally not be more than 30 inches tall to accommodate wheelchair users.

Wheelchair Ramp Requirements

Wheelchair ramps must be 36 inches wide and the incline should not be more than 1 inch high for every 1 foot of ramp length.

 

The width of a wheelchair ramp will depend on the width of a standard wheelchair

 

It’s important to have girder rails installed if the ramp is steep.

Ramp Length Calculator

Below calculator helps you get the right length of ramp based on building type

by concalculator.com

 

Wheelchair Fitting

This YouTube video explains proper procedure to fit a wheelchair to a person’s measurements

Fitting a Wheelchair

How Can You Make Your Home Accessible For Wheelchairs?

Being physically handicapped or using a wheelchair due to any reason impacts their lives in many ways. Even the smallest of things becomes challenging for them in their own space.

It is hard to adapt to everything like using stairs, doorknobs, moving around in the house, using bathrooms, etc.

Here are some of the solutions to make them feel comfortable, ensure safety and enable independent living.

Replacing Stairs With Ramps: 

Stairs can be hazardous for people who use wheelchairs. Moreover, if they don’t live on the ground floor, a ramp becomes a necessity for them as they can’t climb the stairs. Nowadays, some houses have a one or two-step pathway connecting different places like a room landing to a living room. 

So you can use folding ramps for these small staircases. It would ease them to use the wheelchairs and move around in the house. 

It’s not always practical to replace the built stairs in the home with concrete ramps, so accessibility or temporary ramps are available. Even some of the people use a ply-over as a ramp.

Installing A Stairlift

If someone still feels using stairs could be dangerous, or they are challenging to get access to, you can always switch to a stairlift. This is one reason why people switch to healthcare living facilities because it is difficult for them to move around in the house, moreover if they are senior citizens. The stairlift will keep them safe as they move around to a different floor. These stairlifts are flexible and can be installed on any staircase. You can install it on any side of the stairs. These stairlifts are also provided with a remote to have better control and easy movement.

Moreover, the stairlifts are very economical, and you can install them in one day. You can use it for both indoor and outdoor purposes. For people who want to live independently, this can be one of the best options.

Installing An Elevator

People who have limited mobility can consider installing an elevator in the house. Installing an elevator needs space and is expensive too. Some elevators can be installed in a short time, like freestanding home elevators.

Modifications In Washroom: 

You should keep in mind the flooring of the bathroom. Some of the tiles, like slick ones, become wet and soapy and can lead to accidents. People who habitually bathe in tubs should use step-in tubs to prevent a barrier during entry. 

Well, this reduces the risk of falling and accidents. You can also install handrails for them to balance themselves while using the toilet. The bathroom sink should be mounted on the wall at a height where they can access it in both standing and sitting positions. You can also put a roll-in shower. 

There should be bars in the shower and also next to a toilet seat. The doorway of the bathroom should be expanded as wheelchairs require space for moving. You can also replace the door knobs with automatic doors or push or pull doors to ease their movements.

Precautions

  • Do not try climbing staircases or move down using a staircase or ramps without assistance, as you may fall.
  • Always remember to lock your wheelchair while standing or sitting.
  • Avoid using wheelchairs on slippery or smooth tiles or rainy season.

In case of emergency or quick transport, narrower wheelchairs are also available. They can fit into tiny spaces. In case of sharp turns or any blocking near the doorway, you require more space for moving your wheelchair.

In commercial buildings or institutions, airports, or malls, walkaways or aisles of three-foot are provided for easy turning. Separate ramps and lifts are provided for physically challenged people.

More Information On Wheelchair Accessibility

If you are interested in finding out more about the dimensions of a manual or power wheelchair or are looking to research how you can outfit your home or business to be more mobility-friendly for individuals who may benefit from additional mobility aids, consider reading the ADA requirements for accessibility as a starting place.

Doing your research on the size qualifications of various mobility devices, as well as working to create mobility-friendly spaces such as bar-assisted bathrooms and walk-in showers, can help make any space more friendly to individuals of all ranges of mobility.

More Information on Different Kinds of Wheelchairs

We cover the topic of wheelchairs extensively through this website. If you want more information on different kinds of wheelchairs, you can read in-depth articles on narrow width electric wheelchairs or the best wheelchairs for scoliosis. If you are in Canada, you might be interested in knowing about the best electric wheelchairs available in Canada.

If you like to be outdoors, you will need a good wheelchair for outdoor use. Such wheelchairs are sturdy and rugged. They also have a longer driving range so that you can explore the outdoors.

Conversely, if you spend a lot of time indoors, you might prefer wheelchairs that have a tight turning radius. Mid wheel drive wheelchairs allow you to do so. Mid wheel drive wheelchairs have their drive wheels in the middle, right below the user. That allows them to practically turn in place.

Drive wheels of a mid wheel drive wheelchair are in the middle
Drive wheels of a mid wheel drive wheelchair are in the middle which gives the wheelchair a tight turning radius

More Information Wheelchair Accessories

As you start becoming comfortable with your wheelchair, you will like to get some accessories for it. Wheelchair accessories make life easier for a wheelchair user.

Many manual wheelchairs do not come with a headrest. Having said that, you do have the option of buying additional head rest for your wheelchair and install it yourself. There are many options available online that you can choose from.

Some wheelchairs have solid rubber tires but many have inflatable tires. You will do well to have a wheelchair tire pump handy if your wheelchair has inflatable tires.

Many electric wheelchairs have leather or synthetic leather original covers. They may not be too breathable or may not provide the best insulation during the cold. If that is the case, you can explore the option of adding additional wheelchair seat covers.

For people needing additional storage for their wheelchairs, you have the option of buying additional storage bags that fit onto your wheelchair. These bags make it easier for a wheelchair user to do day to day activities like grocery shopping or moving with your medication.

Lastly, many manual wheelchair do not come with seat belts. And seat belts can be a very important safety device for wheelchair users. If your wheelchair does not have them pre-installed, you can buy seat belts for your wheelchair for additional safety.

We hope that with all this information, you are more knowledgeable about wheelchairs, their dimensions, different kinds of wheelchairs, and the accessories available for them.

About Estephanie Jill

Estephanie Jill (EJBP, BSPT, PTRP) is a licensed physiotherapist. She is a home health care provider, laboratory technician for physical therapy students, medical transcriptionist, and an advocate of the physiotherapy profession. Apart from that, she loves writing. Playing to her strengths, she mainly writes around health and fitness, She has been commended for her writing in the past. Her other passions include commenting on societal changes and writing life reflective pieces. She enjoys meaningful conversations, and detaching from the digital world to do yoga and meditation. She is a self-confessed foodie who enjoys eating for the experience and then burning it all off through exercise.