A Guide to Wheelchair Selection

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An Indispensable Resource

A Guide to Wheelchair Selection: How to Use the ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standards to Buy a Wheelchair is designed to help consumers make better educated decisions when purchasing a manual or powered wheelchair. The guide clearly explains how to use the ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Standard test results to compare the characteristics and performance of both manual and powered wheelchairs. This publication is also useful, in combination with the Manual and Powered Wheelchair Training Guide's, as a textbook for Occupational and Physical Therapy programs. Future therapists, with the help of this publication, will be able to help their patients choose the appropriate wheelchair that will meet all of his or her needs. 

Wheelchair Standards

Since 1982, the ANSI/RESNA Standards Subcommittee on Wheelchairs has been developing standards to test and measure wheelchairs. These standards encourage manufacturers to produce better products by giving consumers a means to compare different wheelchairs and by establishing a minimum quality level.

Using the Standards

The book provides an overview of the ANSI/RESNA standards, including:

  • the rationale for each test
  • a brief description of the test methods
  • how the test results will be presented
  • what the test results mean

wheelchair locker cartoon

Determination of Maximum Speed –
How fast can the chair go?

The Right Wheelchair for You

In addition to educating consumers about wheelchair standards, the guide provides tips on how the wheelchair should fit, lists general lifestyle considerations to take into account when considering models, and suggests ways to prioritize features desired on the chair. The appendix lists additional resources consumers can consult.

wheelchair static stability cartoon

Determination of Static Stability -- How tippy is the chair? Having the ability to lean forward in your wheelchair allows you to negotiate steeper slopes.


Funding to write this book was provided by the Paralyzed Veterans of America Spinal Cord Injury Education and Training Foundation.

Written by Peter Axelson, Jean Minkel, and Denise Chesney; Illustrations by Peter Thomas; Published by the Paralyzed Veterans of America.