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Development of a Clinical Guide to Wheelchair Seating Terms and Measures

Princi​pal Investigator:

Kelly Waugh, PT, MAPT, ATP


Barbara Crane, PhD, PT, ATP. University of Hartford


Successful outcomes in the provision of wheelchairs require an appropriate match between the seating support system and the wheelchair user’s body; however, standard terms and measures have been lacking for communication of this critical information. There is significant inconsistency in the terms that are used to describe and measure wheelchair seating parameters (such as leg rest angle, seat height) and postural measures (such as hip angle, trunk lean, pelvic tilt). A common vocabulary of terms and measures is needed by clinicians, suppliers, manufacturers and technicians for accurate translation of assessment information into a seating prescription, and for effective set up of the prescribed product.

Additionally, the adoption of standardized measures will encourage collaborative research regarding the effect of seated posture on a wheelchair user’s health, comfort and function. To address this need, we will develop and disseminate A Clinical Application Guide to standardized terms and measures related to wheelchair seating, translating a highly technical international standard into a format and language that is easy to understand and clinically useful. There is currently no single resource containing this information that is free, easily accessible and practical to use for health care professionals in the field of wheelchair prescription, service delivery and research.

Funding for this project was provided by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Education Foundation Grant #668.


A Clinical Application Guide to Standardized Wheelchair Seating Measures of the Body and Seating Support Surfaces

In this resource manual defining over 130 measurement terms, the authors present a complex ISO standard in a format and language that is easy to understand and practical to use. It includes the correct terminology for angular and linear measurements of the seated person's body and the seating support system. For each term the guide explains the purpose of the measure and its clinical relevance, with an accurate definition, a sample measurement procedure, and 1 to 2 illustrations helping to clarify each measure.

Glossary of Wheelchair Terms and Definitions, Version 1.0​

This glossary includes a searchable list of 550+ defined terms related to wheelchair, wheelchair seating, and wheelchair seated posture. The terms are organized functionally in four sections: (1) Wheeled Mobility Device Types a​nd Related Terms, (2) Wheelchair Components and Features, (3) Seating Support System and (4) Angular and Linear Dimensions. Reference sources are included for each term and definition, and historical terms are linked to the preferred term in a comprehensive index. 

Both of these resources are available for purchase​ and/or free download. For more information check out the Wheelchair Seating page under our Resources tab.


Waugh, K., Crane, B. Measuring Wheelchair Seated Posture and Seating Supports: Standardization of Terms and Methodologies. 28th International Seating Symposium, Vancouver, BC. March 7, 2012