All About Wheelchairs and Wheelchair Development Skills

The topic of wheelchairs may be scary for some.  These links provide you with an overview of perspectives on the use of wheelchairs. Some of these perspectives might surprise you!

Recommendations for wheelchair fitting for children and adults Wheelchair seating and fitting can be a particular challenge for some individuals with SA/CRS due to the fixation of joints, webbing between calf and upper thigh and small size.

Comparing power and manual wheelchair options

Information on wheelchair selection

Tips for ordering a wheelchair


Wheelchair skill development

There are several wheelchair development skills listings and tests available online, including the one at this link


The following list has been developed that is expected to be suitable for most individuals with SA/CRS

Skills for entry and exit to the wheelchair:

Basic transfers:

Transfers to and from chair or bed  to wheelchair independently

Transfers from chair to floor independently

Transfers from floor to chair independently

Transfers from wheelchair to car or van seat and back

Toileting transfers

If applicable, transfers to toilet seat and back to chair

If applicable, manages catheterization and associated clothing changes/adjustments from wheelchair

Driver transfers

While seated in car, removes chair from car and assembles parts of chair to transfer into chair

Transfers from wheelchair to car seat and disassembles wheelchair, loading it into car

Folds wheelchair (rigid type with folding back and removable wheels) and puts wheelchair into car

Pulls wheelchair (not folded) into van through side door from seated position on floor of van

Exits wheelchair to scoot up/down series of steps, pulling wheelchair along going up or down then transfers back into chair

Transfers for those who stand/walk

If walking, transfers to and from wheelchair and seated to standing/walking position

While standing, disassembles chair and places it in vehicle side or trunk

While standing, removes chair from car and assembles it and transfers into chair


Skills for maneuvering the wheelchair


Basic movements (approximate age 2-5 yrs)

Pushes forward on flat surface independently

Pushes backward on flat surface

Turns in place right and left

Turns right or left while moving forward

Turns right or left while moving backward

Controls increased speed for forward  and backward

Moves chair forward and backwards for increased distance (around school building/around block)

Positions chair sideways near object/table/counter/bed, etc

Guides chair through hallway, around turns and obstacles

Pushes chair over slight inclines

Controls chair speed on downward inclines

Adjusts speed for changes in gentle slope up and down

Stops chair with control on gentle downward slopes

Controls sudden stop

Intermediate skills  (approximate age 5-10)

Controls sudden turn, avoids moving objects

Pushes over door threshold

Pushes over gap/road rut

Enters and exits doorway in wheelchair, using push through or pull through doors

Angles chair for pushing up steep inclines zig zag

Angles chair for control on steep decline zig zag

Rolls across side slope

While moving forward, guides chair by shift of weight without touching wheels with hands

Wheelie skills (approximate age 6-12 yrs)

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie in place  (all wheelie skills only  possible with manual chair)

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie while  moving  forward on flat surfaces

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie while spinning and turning

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie while moving forward over soft or rough surface

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie while moving forward on descending slope

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie for bumping down a curb

Raises front wheels balancing a wheelie with forward speed to bump up a curb/or places front wheels on curb and pushes forward to ascend curb/step (curb height up to 2 or about 5 cm inches)

Ball skills (approximate ages 5-12 yrs)

Bounces ball from wheelchair

Bounces ball from wheelchair while moving forward, controls speed and movement forward of ball

Raises ball from floor with forward push and pressure of ball against push rim

Throws ball while moving

Catches ball while moving forward

Catches ball while moving backward

advanced skills (approximate age 10-18 yrs)

“walks” wheelchair side to side by shifting weight and lifting opposite wheel

Descends high curb (ascends high curb may be difficult for most)

Ascends escalator in wheelchair

Descends escalator in wheelchair (riding backwards)

Ascends/descends wide stairs in wheelchair


Skills for activity from wheelchair

Shifts body weight in chair for release of pressure on buttocks

Reaches high objects, maximizing chair surface for platform/balance

Reaches down to pick up object from lower surface/floor forward and side to side

Carries objects in lap or otherwise in chair while pushing

Carries object with one hand while maintaining push control with other hand

Switches object hand to hand to control angle of forward movement of chair while carrying object

Propels rolling suitcase/racing wheelchair/baby stroller while pushing forward

Carries large/heavy object while pushing forward (in backpack or front  of chair or under chair)

Walks dog on leash from wheelchair

Pushes shopping cart while using wheelchair


Elite wheelchair user skills

WCMX skills involve using the wheelchair as a skateboard. Steep ramps, flips, stair rail ‘slides’ push the limits in skate park facilities and competitions
Here iSACRA’s member Jason Brass is one of the athletes featured in this article about the sport

Wheelchair racing: using specialized racing chair with 3 wheels and forward pressure/release against the push rim rather than a pushing stroke.   iSACRA president Jessica Rogers is a wheelchair racer.

Wheelchair tennis.  Several iSACRA members enjoy tennis. Here’s Lauren Hopps.

Wheelchair basketball  Several iSACRA members are elite basketball players. Here’s Elissa Robinson.

Wheelchair fencing   Any iSACRA fencers out there?

Wheelchair dancing Some iSACRA members participate in this sport. Here’s Joanne Fluke.