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Wheelchairs

Are Wheelchair Footrests Universal? (Choosing the Right One)

Written by Claire Bonneau
Last Updated :
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Are wheelchair footrests universal? No, they aren’t. But you must have seen listings for universal designs for wheelchair footrests on Amazon and other sites.

But even those need some adjusting to fit on any wheelchair because no footrest design is perfect for every wheelchair out there.

Let’s look at wheelchair footrests and why there’s no one size fits all option.

Check: The List Of Best Manual Wheelchairs for Outdoors

Key Takeaways

  • There are no universal footrests. Though some fit most wheelchairs, each different model requires a specific footrest.
  • Footrests help maintain proper posture, improve blood circulation, and offer a resting place for injured feet.
  • There are four main types of footrests, each with a distinct advantage.

Are All Wheelchair Footrests the Same?

This is a frequent question for most wheelchair users who wish for universal wheelchair accessories.

There is a wide variety of this vital wheelchair equipment. But there isn’t a universal version that would fit any wheelchair.

wheelchair footrest, Are wheelchair footrests universal

Getting a universal footrest for your wheelchair is possible, but even that would need serious adjustments.

Most of the time, it’ll only be a basic wheelchair footrest which you’ll need to find a way to work with.

With the array of wheelchair styles available to wheelchair users, it’s near impossible to have a universal wheelchair accessory.

Most wheelchair footrests only work with specific models of wheelchairs. It all comes down to the type of wheelchair you’re using.

So you’ll have to check any wheelchair footplate for compatibility to avoid a difficult time with the installation.

A mismatch in the type of wheelchair footrest and the wheelchair will only cost you more.

When you hear of universal replacement footrests, be wary of blindly purchasing them.

Why Are Wheelchair Footrests Important?

Footrests enable adaptive seating for wheelchair users by ensuring they sit in the best position. Wheelchair sitting positions affect the wheelchair’s mode of propulsion (1).

It also prevents straining the spinal cord from not sitting in the optimal position (2).

The ideal footplate on a daily-use wheelchair will also help reduce joint pain by ensuring proper blood circulation thanks to sitting in the best posture (3).

That’s why you need to consider a proper footrest.

Current wheelchairs come with footrests, so pick a compatible model when choosing a replacement footrest.

Types of Wheelchair Footrests

Since there’s no universal version, what types of footrests are there?

Manufacturers of wheelchair parts are always trying to improve and create new product types, and these are the footrest options you can expect.

1. Swing-away Footrests

Swing-away footrests are some of the most versatile wheelchair footrests. They are called swing-away footrests because they swing in and out below the wheelchair.

That makes them a convenient choice for people with medical disabilities or conditions.

Not all chair manufacturers make wheelchairs with swing-away footrests. But they would be a fantastic replacement footrest.

Here is a video of the Blue swing-away footrest in action.

https://youtu.be/60Z80OWO6-I

2. Two-Piece Footrest

The two-piece footrest is one of the most common options for wheelchairs. It’s the perfect option for people that need to have their foot on a flat surface.

Most chair designs have this type of footrest.

3. One-Piece Footrest

The one-piece footrest is perfect if you can flatten your feet on the floor. Unlike the two-piece footrests, this one seems like a floorboard you can step on.

They are more common in athletic chairs than in regular wheelchairs.

The above are the most common types of footrests. None of them is universal for all wheelchairs, manual or electric.

So deciding the best kind for your wheelchair falls on you.

Choosing the Perfect Wheelchair Footrest

Are wheelchair footrests universal? No. So let’s find the perfect wheelchair footrest for you.

If you have a manual wheelchair, what kind of replacement footrest do you choose? Do electric power chairs use different footrests?

Here is what to consider when choosing a footrest for an individual chair.

1. Compatibility

A wheelchair isn’t like an office chair for which you can buy any footrest. You must ensure the footrest you buy is compatible with your wheelchair model.

Understand your wheelchair model before buying a replacement footrest.

Fortunately, it’s now easy to get a custom-made replacement footrest.

2. Durability

In a world fraught with temporary rather than permanent solutions, you must consider the durability of your wheelchair footplate.

A durable replacement footrest could cost you more but will be worth every penny.

Research suggests the ideal footrest shouldn’t need to be fixed or replaced soon after purchase (4). For the user’s well-being, they must consider the durability of a footrest before purchase.

3. Price

A footrest’s actual price doesn’t matter if it offers excellent support for your feet. But how can you tell if the footrest is indeed worth the money?

For the price, consider the functions of the footrest relative to other lower-priced options.

4. Ease of Use

The ease with which you use a footrest refers to how easy it is to install or adjust. If it’s a foldable option, does it easily fold? Can you adjust the footrest in all directions?

Those are common questions you need answers to before selecting a footrest.

READ MORE: How to Get Wheelchair Assistance at Airport?

FAQs

Are wheelchair footrests interchangeable?

Not all, but some footrests are interchangeable. The only problem is that a footrest may not work for some wheelchair brands.

Are footrests necessary?

Yes, footrests are necessary accessories. They improve blood circulation and ensure perfect posture in a wheelchair.

Should a footrest be flat or angled?

The ideal footrest should be angled to relieve pressure on the feet. That’s why they come adjustable for you to change the angles as you see fit.

Conclusion

Are wheelchair footrests universal? Some are, but not all. Wheelchair models determine the universality of footrests.

And since there isn’t a uniform wheelchair model, it’s impossible to have a universal type of wheelchair footrest.

You can interchange some footrests, especially for new model manual wheelchairs. But most times, these are outlier cases.

I dream of the day we’ll have Interchangeable wheelchair accessories. Although some already exist, we have some time before the same can happen for footrests.

wheelchair with footrest, Are wheelchair footrests universal

What wheelchair footrest do you plan to buy and why? Please share with us in the comments!

References

  • 1. Kotajarvi B, Sabick M, An K-N, Zhao K. Download Limit Exceeded [Internet]. citeseerx.ist.psu.edu. 2004 [cited 2022 Oct 13]. Available from: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.619.2137&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  • 2. Minkel J. Seating and Mobility Considerations for People With Spinal Cord Injury. Physical Therapy. 2000;80.
  • 3. Wahome C. Joint Pain From Sitting in a Wheelchair [Internet]. WebMD. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 13]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/ankylosing-spondylitis/features/cm/joint-pain-from-using-wheelchair
  • 4. Gehling A, Rogers J, Craven R, Hadyka A, Kiersten M, Schmitz K, et al. DESIGN OF DURABLE WHEELCHAIR FOOTRESTS [Internet]. 2016. Available from: https://bmedesign.engr.wisc.edu/projects/f16/foot_rest/file/view/e71bc081-936e-429b-8c07-8cea8aac61e6/Final_Report-Team_Foot_Rest.pdf

About Author

Claire Bonneau
Claire is a registered nurse with experience in freelance medical writing. She is very passionate about geriatric nursing and seniors care and education (it is her favorite area of nursing). She worked with many seniors in a variety of medical settings to provide high-erLATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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