Custom-built Wheelchairs: A Precision Process

Chairman Industries specialises in custom-built wheelchairs

Developing a custom-built wheelchair is a precision process, and involves numerous steps, all integral to ensuring the chair is tailored to the individual’s specific needs and dimensions. 

At Chairman we work with each of our clients to ensure the chair manufactured provides maximum comfort, postural support and functionality. 

Additionally, should the client’s functional needs change, we continue to modify or adapt their device to ensure clinical and functional appropriateness.

The Chairman Custom Manufacturing Process

Clinical assessment

The first step in the wheelchair prescription process is a thorough interview to establish the client’s medical history, level of functioning in everyday tasks, home environment and community accessibility. 

Once the interview is complete, a physical assessment takes place while lying on a plinth to screen spinal and pelvic alignment, proceeded by a range of motion assessment of the lower limbs. 

The physical assessment is important for identifying limitations that may affect one’s ability to be seated in an anatomically neutral position. Taking into consideration the findings of the clinical assessment, a seating simulation will be performed in sitting to establish how much support is required at different key points on the body to achieve optimum upright right sitting posture. 

A wheelchair is not a one-size-fits-all device, and developing a custom-built wheelchair is a precision process, so it is important to draw on all findings from the interview and clinical assessment in choosing the correct wheelchair that will suit the client’s functional, postural, and environmental needs.

Once the most suitable chair is chosen, the seating specialist will then proceed to taking several measurements to guide the factory in manufacturing the custom wheelchair. 


Seat width: The measurement of the width of the individual’s hips or thighs while seated. This measurement ensures a comfortable fit, while preventing the occurrence of secondary complications such as pressure sores from a seat that is too narrow, or postural deviations from a seat that is too wide.

Seat depth: The measurement taken from the back of the individual’s pelvis to behind knee while seated. An accurate seat depth measurement allows for full support to the upper leg, preventing increased pressure to common soft tissue areas below the sitting bones or behind the calf. 

Backrest height: The measurement taken from seating surface to the height indicated for the user’s postural support requirements or functional needs. In most cases, this measurement is typically taken to the base of the shoulder blade, to allow for full active range of the shoulder when propelling the wheelchair. 

Seat and footrest height: The measurement taken from the ground at the base of the individual’s heel to the back of their knee. This measurement helps determine the ideal seat and footplate height, to provide full support to the base of the foot and adequate ground clearance. The correct footplate height allows for an equal distribution of pressure between the upper leg and the cushion surface, and aids in prevention of permanent deviations of the foot and ankle. 

Armrest height: The measurement taken from the seating surface to individual’s elbow held at a 90-degree angle. Appropriate armrest height allows for postural stability, and support to joints of the upper limb, particularly the shoulder.  

After the measuring process is complete, the individual is provided with options for wheelchair add-ons and accessories such as brake preferences, side guards/mudguards, push handles, wheel size, tire specifications and frame colour. The order form is then submitted to the factory for manufacturing.

We know that a wheelchair is highly personal, and we encourage our clients to make their wheelchairs an extension of themselves. No matter what the requirement, Chairman Industries goes over and above to supply our clients with the right wheelchair, custom-built to maximise their comfort every day.

Find out more – contact Chairman Industries today on 011 624 1222

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