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State Spinal Cord Injury Service

Spinal Seating Modules

Evaluation of a manual wheelchair

When evaluating a MWC there is a wide range of potential details that may relate to meeting the identified seating goals, consider those which are relevant and document your observations and measurements.

The list below is an overview of many details that might be relevant:

  • Manufacturer, model and product code
  • Size: see downloadable specifications sheet for MWC for important measurements
  • Age of the wheelchair
  • Condition: identify rust, wear and tear, and if frame and component issues require urgent replacement
  • Features and specifications (where relevant): see Module 9 for more details.
    • Drive system type: self-propelled or attendant;  one-arm drive, lever-drive, geared hub drive, handrim-activated power assist drive, additional drive with power add-on unit
    • Frame type: folding, rigid, attendant propelled, standing, tilt, heavy duty
    • Frame material used: Steel, aluminium, titanium, carbon-fibre and other alloys
    • Adjustability:
      • Back post angle, adjustment to back post height, folding or non-folding back post
      • Rear wheel axle position:  location of rear wheel can be adjusted vertically, horizontally or both
      • Castor housing: angle adjustability of the castor housing is required for castor spindle to remain vertical if the rear wheel position is altered
      • Castor fork: height adjustability to change seat-to-floor height, capacity to receive larger or smaller castor wheel
    • Rear wheels:
      • Manufacturer, model, wheel spoke material, wheel size
      • Handrims: manufacturer, model /specs , short/long tab (handrim spacer length), capstans / projections
      • Tyres: solid/ pneumatic, manufacturer, model, tyre specs which can be found on the sidewall of the tyre
      • Rear wheel cambers in degrees and camber tubes
      • Axle release type: quad release, standard quick release, fixed
      • Rear wheel spacing: gap between wheel and chair frame
    • Wheel lock: push or pull to lock, high or low mount, scissors (retractable)
    • Castors: diameter, width, profiles and tyre
    • Arm support and assembly: single or dual mount, removable, flip up, full length or desk, height adjustable
    • Lower leg support assembly (hanger type): swing away or fixed, ‘V’ or taper front;  adjustment such as elevation or stump support, calf straps or pads
    • Foot supports / footplates: single or dual, rigid platform, open loop,   one or two piece flip up, angle adjustment and medial or lateral positioning
    • Others: side guards, anti-tippers, push handles, transport options, spoke guards, suspension
  • Note any additional assistive devices being planned for, or being utilised with the manual wheelchair, e.g., for outdoor mobility, recreation or transportation. They may influence the selecting and specifications of the wheelchair prescription.
    • Large front wheel adaptation to lift the front castors off the ground and to negotiate rough terrain with greater ease
    • Wheelchair hand cycles and attachments
    • Handrim-activated propulsion- assist drive
    • Power add-on units, or
    • Docking tie-down device and attachment for travelling in motor vehicle


  1. Queensland Spinal Outreach Team and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 2013. Manual wheelchairs: information resource to service providers. University of Queensland. Accessed: 29/02/16.