What Is the Difference Between a Wheelchair for a Child Versus an Adult?

The simple answer is growth adjustability. Adults don’t grow so when they purchase a wheelchair, we know that the wheelchair will still fit them in one, two, three years’ time. The same cannot be said for a growing child. Children need a wheelchair that can grow as they grow. 

Before you choose a pediatric wheelchair, first you need to know how to properly fit the chair to the user. 

What is the correct seat depth for a child? 

If the user, not matter child, adult, or elderly is sitting in a wheelchair that is the incorrect seat depth, they will compromise their posture which could lead to other health problems. 

The correct seat depth is when the user is sitting all the way to the back of the chair with 1 finger distance measuring from behind the knee and the front edge of the seat.

Left; Depicts the correct seat depth. Middle and Right; Depict incorrect seat depths. 

If the seat depth is too deep, the user will slide forward and have a slouching posture. If the seat depth is too short, there is not enough surface area to evenly distribute the user’s weight which can result in pressure ulcers.

Choose a wheelchair that can be adjusted as the child grows so they will never be sitting in a wheelchair with the incorrect seat depth. KARMA Flexx Junior has a backrest that can be moved back and forward from 11” to 15” to accommodate the needs of the user. 

Flexx Junior has an adjustable seat depth. As the child grows, the chair can be adjusted along with them.

What is the correct seat width for a child? 

The seat width should be as “narrow as possible” meaning the user should sit comfortably without unnecessary pressure on their outer thighs. The user should still be able to reach the rear wheels to propel.

Left: Depicts the correct seat width. Right: Depicts the incorrect seat width where the user is forced to lean to one side. 

If the seat depth is too narrow then it will create unnecessary friction between the user’s thighs and the sides of the wheelchair, which could lead to pressure ulcers. If the wheelchair is too wide then the user will lean to one side which can cause serious posture issues and spinal deformities. 

Just like the seat depth that can be adjusted, the seat width of Flexx Junior can also be adjusted. By moving a couple of bolts, the seat width can be adjusted from 10” to 14” growing with the user as they need it.

By moving just a couple of bolts, Flexx Junior can be adjusted from a 10” wide seat to a 14” wide seat. 

Choose a wheelchair that can grow with the child

Choosing a wheelchair that can grow with the child will mean that the user will always have the correct size wheelchair and seating support and it will also save parents money. In the next blog we will talk through the additional needs/ functions that some pediatric users may require.

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