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State Spinal Cord Injury Service

Spinal Seating Modules

Terms and definitions

In these Spinal Seating Modules the following definitions will be used for common terms associated with the topic. It is important to note that these definitions may vary when reading more broadly, and some terms have definitions which have changed over time. The definitions used in these modules are taken from the glossary of terms published by the ‘Paralyzed Veterans of America’ (2013)1.


Definition used in Modules


Wheeled mobility device with a seating support system for a person with impaired mobility, intended to provide mobility in a seated position as its primary function. Includes manual and power wheelchairs. Excludes devices such as prone mobility carts that provide mobility in a non-seated position.

Manual wheelchair


Wheelchair which relies on an occupant or an assistant for manual propulsion.

Power wheelchair


Wheelchair in which the motor power is derived from an integral source of electricpower.

Seating system

Body support system used in a device intended to support the occupant in a sitting position; specifically those parts of a wheelchair, positioning chair or other seated mobility device which are intended to directly contact, support or contain the body of the occupant, including the seat, back support, arm support, lower leg support and foot support.

Wheeled mobility device

Mobility-related assistive technology device that provides wheeled mobility in a sitting, lying or standing position for persons with impaired mobility. Includes manual and power wheelchairs, scooters (POVs), toilet and shower wheelchairs, prone mobility carts and other unique mobility devices. Excludes: Ambulation aids.

Handrim-activated propulsion-assist drive

Type of manual wheelchair propulsion operated with a combination of human power and electrical power, where the activation of the electrical power is through application of a torque, displacement or force to the handrim or handrims.

Power add-on unit

Component that converts a manual wheelchair to a power wheelchair.

Useful Equipment:

  • Magnetic angle protractor or inclinometer - measured in degrees
  • Measuring tape - measured in millimetres or inches as appropriate
  • Gloves
  • Camera


  1. Waugh, K., et al. 2013. Glossary of wheelchair terms and definitions, Ver. 1.0, Dec 2013. Paralysed Veterans of America. Denver, Colorado. Available for download from: Accessed 29/02/16.