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State Spinal Cord Injury Service

Spinal Seating Modules

Module 2:
Developing a client profile: getting the big picture


This module aims to develop a client profile in the initial phase of a clinical relationship, and to introduce Spinal Seating Services who can be referred to when addressing complex seating needs.


"In a real sense, a wheelchair is an extension of the user's body.  Therefore, it is critical that any prescription for a new wheelchair must match the user's current expectations, preferences, physical needs and functional requirements that emerge out of his or her interactions with the environment." 1

A comprehensive profile of the client is vital in determining seating and wheeled mobility needs. Seating interventions must be individualised to meet the distinct needs and circumstances of clients. Gathering relevant information early will provide the clinician with an overview of the client’s individual situation. This ‘big picture’ assists the client and clinician to understand how medical, functional, social and environmental factors relate to a client’s seating and mobility needs. It is beneficial for clinicians to gather structured preliminary information by using a data collection form. This is needed should the client be referred to Spinal Seating Services.


At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Prepare appropriate questions for a new client to gain an understanding of their current circumstance, seating and wheeled mobility needs
  • Identify and record relevant medical, social, functional and environmental information to form the basis of a client profile, and
  • Prepare a referral to a Spinal Seating Service with a good summary of relevant information.

In this module


  1. Batavia M, Batavia AI & Friedman R. 2001. Changing chairs: anticipating problems in prescribing wheelchairs. Disabil Rehabil. Aug 15; 23(12): 539-48.