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Choosing An Armrest For Your Wheelchair

January 29, 2023 5 min read

Choosing An Armrest For Your Wheelchair

Many people who use wheelchairs see armrests as little more than a place to rest their arms. Actually, the wheelchair armrests serve a much more crucial purpose. The wheelchair user's level of upper body balance, control, and upper extremity function is frequently a determining factor in how beneficial an armrest is.

The user is less likely to be dependent on the armrests the better their upper body balance and control is.

When more support or balance is required, some persons who have good upper body control or who have mastered effective in-chair balancing techniques fully remove the armrests and use the wheels or seat frame instead. For support and stability, some people with weak trunk control and little to no grasp will lock an elbow or wrist around a portion of the wheelchair armrest.

Wheelchair Armrest Functions


- They support the wheelchair user's balance and keep them contained.

- Armrests provide stability when reaching or picking up objects from the ground. When reaching, the majority of wheelchair users will cling on the opposing armrest.

- The wheelchair armrests can be used to steady and balance the user on slopes or uneven ground.

- They help to keep the user steady when making quick stops or sharp turns. 

Pressure Reduction

- When performing pressure-relieving weight lifts or shifts, armrests can be used as push off points (lifting the body to reduce pressure). When performing weight adjustments that relieve pressure, they can also serve as stabilizers (shifting the body to one side or bending forward to reduce pressure).

- While seated, placing a reasonable amount of weight on the armrests will help unbalance the pelvis and lessen or reroute the forces that cause pressure sores.

- By supporting the weight of the arms on the armrests, one can lessen some of the downward gravity on the spine, maintain and enhance posture, and protect the intervertebral discs and spaces.


- Wheelchair users frequently choose postures other than the traditional upright seated position.

- Repositioning within the wheelchair may require the usage of the armrests. This could be done for comfort, to sleep, to relieve pressure and pain, or just to relax. In certain situations, it can be necessary to use wheelchair armrests to achieve and maintain these positions.

- Armrests can be utilized as a balancing aid while completing chores that require being outside of the wheelchair user's regulated balance range or to improve positioning for doing so. For instance, a wheelchair user can anchor themselves in the chair by grabbing the armrest with their left hand when they need to lean far forward and reach with their right hand.

- The armrests are necessary for many wheelchair users to securely enter and exit their vehicles.

-For help when getting in and out of the wheelchair, people who can stand also use the armrests.

- When utilized properly, armrests aid in maintaining a good, useful seated posture.

Types Of Armrests

There are several different armrest options available. Some can be folded out of the way, while others can be removed. Some are not removable and have fixed heights.

Transfers may be hampered by the armrest's inability to be removed. The armrest's insufficient height for ideal arm support may also result in pain.

For instance, if your armrest is particularly low, your torso will lean slightly forward as a result. In order to get your arms on the armrests if it is too high, you might have to lift your shoulders, which is a very unpleasant position to be in. You will experience discomfort if the armrest is too high since it will irritate your armpits.


Different Attachments For The Armrests

Armrests can be mounted to a wheelchair in a number of different ways. Let's examine four common methods of attachment:

  1. Flip down - For improved clearance, the armrests are fastened to the back upright canes rather than the side frame of the chair. This allows them to be flipped to an upward position.
  2. Dual Post - The dual post armrest features two vertical tubes that can be put into the wheelchair's side frame.
  3. Single Post - The side frame of this type has a vertical tube placed into it. It provides more space when stepping up to a table, but it is less solid than the two post armrests.
  4. Fixed - This armrest style is welded to the wheelchair's frame.

Various Armrest Styles

Armrests come in a variety of sorts and designs. Below, we'll talk about a few.

The Swing Away Armrest - For simpler transfers or clearing, this type of armrest swings away to the side or the back of the wheelchair.

The Space Saver Arm - To bring the armrest closer to the body, the space saver armrest curls inward.

The Fixed/Removable Armrest (Desk Length) - This armrest has a fixed height and supports the arm for around three-fourths of the seat.

The Fixed/Removable Armrest (Full Length) - This armrest has a fixed height and supports the user from the rear of the seat to the front.

Adjustable Height Removable Armrest (Desk Length) - This style of armrest extends support from the back of the seat to roughly three-quarters of the seat and may be modified in height, allowing the chair to slide under a table.

Adjustable Height Removable Armrest (Full Length) - This armrest extends from the back of the seat to the front and has a height adjustment. Due to the stability they offer, they are most frequently employed when a lap tray is used.

Tubular Armrest - The hardware on the back uprights of the tubular armrest allows it to flip downward. Additionally, they can slant downward to connect to a socket under the seat.

Financing Available

Are there financing options available?

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Whether you need help covering the cost of your initial purchase or simply want to make monthly payments, mobility devices are accessible for most budgets.

So, if you're looking for an electric scooter or wheelchair that can help you maintain your independence, be sure to explore the financing options available for each model. At the top of each product page, you’ll find a financing button. Simply click on it to learn more and prequalify!

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Abby Haukongo
Abby Haukongo