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Thread: Should a wheelchair be comfortable?

  1. #1
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Should a wheelchair be comfortable?

    I'm figuring my measurements for a new TR3 and going carefully over my current chair. I wish I had someone as good as SCI_OTR to do my seating but I can only find vendors in my area and I don't trust them. Lot's of experiences where they sold me what didn't work but seemed good for them.

    So I am wondering, is it possible to make a chair comfortable? I've always compromised and had some things hurt and each new chair I get better and things fit better but I am wondering if it's realistic to shoot for planning a chair that actually feels comfortable. What do you think?

    I've decided that I want this chair's first priority to be comfort and I'll take performance second. Keeping it safe of course. TiFit should help with that.

    I would like your opinions and suggestions. I am out-of-pocket with this chair and expect to pay $4K plus. Flexible on the cost really because I really want this to be the best fit I've had. If anyone does know how to find a seating clinic in the San Francisco Bay area I'd like to hear about that too. I'd pay the money to work with a professional I could trust.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Comfortable? Absolutely!! I've been able to modify my AeroZ so it both performs and is comfortable. Granted I've done some drastic mods: first temporary then permanent. And I have a few more minor tweaks in mind yet, but I'm now quite confident my next chair (hopefully TR3) will fit well. It's taken four years of experimenting to reach this point. (My cushion is also supremely important - I haven't modified it.)
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Baldwinsville, N.Y.
    I went from a ZRA to a T3. Absolutely love it. My vendors are the same in Pa. They are really not experts on fitting chairs. I am far from an expert with chairs but did re-adjust my back to fit my more comfortable. You can't go wrong and will really like it once you get used to it. I have to admit my ZRA was great but once I started using the T3, I like the narrow front design better.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    SW Florida

    My perspective.

    Comfort to those of us with spinal cord injuries is a relative thing. I have never been truly comfortable in any wheelchair, every chair a compromise. Certain amounts of pain and discomfort seem to be ubiquitous consequences of have a SCI. I'll bet you know what I mean.

    I can't remain comfortable in any position for long, even lying down. If I could create a really comfortable chair, it would probably weight hundreds of pounds and cost a fortune, like something created for an astronaut's extended voyage. (Weightless would be cool. No pressure points.)

    I'm not sure I would want a completely comfortable chair. In bed, my chair, my car, I have found that my discomfort causes me to move and change position frequently. Sometimes I just need to get off my ass, when I can't take any more. I wake up at night because of my discomfort, so I can change position. I think it's one reason I've never had a sore.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't try to make your chair comfortable. Just not so comfortable that you forget to move.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    I think you better be comfortable. If it hurts I think that can create other problems. I am on a TR3. I am no engineer, but I do understand it and did do the spec myself and then went to purchase. I did pay out of pocket. IO really do no changes other than buy new brakes and tires when wear out. What do you change? Can you do the same on TR3? If you need to change the frame, a TR3 probably not good choice, in my opinion. If you change position of seat, like dump, TR3 probably not good choice. Even some of the things on TR3 that can be changed, the change may be limited by the structure of the frame or other components.

  6. #6
    I'm all for comfort. I use an 18" wide Crossfire with tapered seat (to 16" at front), about 2.5" dump. On my current chair I went to 20" deep seat and love it. It's the most stable and comfortable chair I have ever used. I have done endos before in shorter wheelbase chairs, this one no way. The long seat gives me support and good weight distribution to take some pressure off of vulnerable areas. My footrests taper to 11" inside at foot plate. I am 6'2" and 193lbs this chair is stable and can be wheeled over cracked concrete without a lot of concern. Now that I am 70 it's best to avoid doing front flips. Go for comfort.

  7. #7
    I think chair discomfort is a stressor and a distraction. Also, you can expend a lot of energy shifting around, etc. to find a comfortable position. That is why I gravitated toward wheelchairs that have a good bit of adjustability in the seatback angle, with dump, etc. My manual backup chair is a Quickie GT and I was able to get it feeling pretty comfortable when just sitting around.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

  8. #8
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    ala has some great points, especially for the people this forum is geared toward - those of us with spinal cord injuries. I haven't been in a chair 60 years, but from my point of view "feeling pretty comfortable when just sitting around" in a machine supplied for mobility is over-rated by many users. Find the best fit for wheeling - what a wheelchair is designed to do. Use regular furniture for sitting around - what it is designed for. Office chair in front of the computer, La-Z-Boy in front of the television. For folks without triceps comfort may be a more important factor, but OP is a walker.

    Truth be known grommet owned the most adjustable wheelchair on the market, yet was "uncomfortable" taking the necessary amount of time and effort to fit it to his needs. I'm not quite sure what type of advice he's looking for here.

    Grommet, you mention "TiFit". After googling and watching some of their kool-aid videos I still have no clue what it is other than a marketing gimmick. I would spend less time day-dreaming about what you want and more finding out what you need. Are there any wheelchair basketball teams in your area? People that use wheelchairs are far better at seeing what changes would help. They've been there, and have an unbiased objectivity. Might be a good place to start.

    You live a day-trip away from one of the most custom chair builders on the planet - Mike Box. He's not in a chair himself but has built them for a very long time. I realize he's 7 hours away but a bus ticket is relatively cheap compared to a $4-5k titanium wheelchair. I have a couple acquaintances who made to the trip to Norco to finalize measurements with Mike. 2 of them were guys that are not technically minded at all. They both had been using chairs spec'd by seating clinicians that were poorly fitted. By seeing the user in person Mike is able to determine what changes need to be made. Both guys received a chair tailored not only to their body type and injury level, but to their lifestyle. By that I mean how they live everyday. One guy drives a 4x4 pickup, so his chair is a little taller than average to help ease the transfer. The other has 2 german shephard's that pull him around, his chair has more forward stability by moving the casters forward. If I had found Mike Box a year earlier I would have saved myself $10,000 and not bought a Lasher or my beloved Oracing.

  9. #9
    Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose has a seating clinic in their SCI rehab center. I would start with talking to them.


  10. #10
    tooley, your point about paying attention to wheeling is a good one. But there are better guidelines than using one's subjective feelings to find a good fit. I encourage anyone getting a new manual wheelchair to read the manual on preserving upper extremity function that can be reached by clicking the SOS link near the bottom of my post. There are some guidelines for wheelchair setup. Following them may help keep you from reaching the "sitting around" stage in a manual chair as I have done. At this point, any attempt at wheeling a manual wheelchair evokes excruciating pain in my shoulders. As KLD suggests, getting some guidance from experienced professionals can be helpful when available. To me breaking in and setting up a new chair seems a lot like breaking in a new pair of shoes when you are AB. They are not really broken in until you no longer notice and think about them.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

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