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How to Weigh Someone in a Wheelchair: Users Guide and Tips

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As a wheelchair user myself, I understand the challenges of staying healthy and fit with limited mobility. Keeping track of weight by weighing yourself is challenging.

With some research and trial and error, and plenty of research, I’ve found a few ways to weigh myself as a person with disabilities. So read ahead to find out how you can do the same!

Check: Best Lightweight Wheelchair Reviews

What You Should Consider Before Trying to Weigh a Wheelchair User

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to weigh individuals with disabilities who are wheelchair users, there are a couple of things you should take into consideration.

Are You Alone or With Help?

old person thinking

Weighing yourself can be difficult if you don’t have someone to help you using mobility devices that may hinder the process [1].

If you live alone, it may be best to invest in medical scales that will allow you to check your weight without asking for help [2].

It is best to have help to ensure safe and accurate results.

If you require more support, you may want to consider portable bed scales or floor scales that you can use while remaining in your wheelchair.

Space

spacious room

Finding a suitable area in your home that is comfortable and spacious enough to provide accessibility to your scale is imperative.

Find a space that works best for you and your needs.

It may be best to find a portable scale that you can use. Additionally, make sure that the area around the scale is transparent so that you don’t have to worry about hazards.

READ MORE: How to Clean a Wheelchair

Positioning Yourself on the Scale

Ensure that you tweak your position until the scale reads 0.0. You may have to adjust your wheelchair or move your body around to find the perfect position.

Position the scale on a large flat surface because a slanted or uneven surface will give you an inaccurate reading [3].

Here’s a video for more tips on how to weigh yourself in a wheelchair.

If you are using a bedside scale, ensure that the wheels of your wheelchair are locked, and your securement devices are tacked. You don’t want the scale to move when you transfer yourself onto it!

Now that we’ve gone over some things to keep in mind while measuring your weight, let’s move on to how you can do it!

How To Weigh a Wheelchair User?

Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent extra health problems, so knowing that you’re at a healthy weight as a wheelchair user is crucial.

Visit the Doctor’s Office

visiting the doctor

The doctor will step on a scale before you at your annual checkup and then announce your weight.

You can ask medical staff to help you transfer onto the scale so that they can give you an accurate reading.

Hospitals offer weighing scales for different needs like; a built-in scale, dedicated weighing chair scale, hoist scales (medical hoist scales) with overhead track lift systems, and more!

The process usually goes like this:

1: The nurse or doctor will have you sit on the edge of the scale. They usually use medical beam scales in their clinic. Depending on your needs, the appropriate scale will be selected.

2: They will then place their hands under your arms and lift you onto the scale.

3: Once you are on the scale, the nurse or doctor will ask you to sit still while they get a reading.

Afterward, staff will help transfer you to get back into your wheelchair.

If you go to a doctor’s office or clinic, they will take your height and BMI (body mass index) into account, including your height and weight. [4].

A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.

The Pharmacy Scale

Many pharmacies have a public scale that you can use for free! Only do so if you can and have help nearby in an emergency.

To use the scale, step on it with help and wait for the reading. You may need to adjust your position until the scale reads 0.0.

Once you have your weight, step off the scale and transfer back into your wheelchair.

Some pharmacies may require you to buy something before using their employee scale, but it’s usually just a small item.

Community Weight Management Service

If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, you may consider going to a community weight management service [5].

Here you will be weighed and have your height, and BMI measured. You will also be guided to maintain a healthy weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

Community weight management services can be found at your local hospital, health department, or community center.

If this is not available in your State, try an alternative and speak to a dietitian if you require assistance maintaining a particular weight.

Weighing Yourself with Different Types of Scales

There are many different scales that you can use to weigh yourself.

Below, I included a table showing you some of the most common scales and how they work!

Type of ScaleDescriptionHow to use it
Medical chair scalesThese scales have a chair you sit in and a weight platform under your wheels.To use this type of scale, you will need to lift it for transfer into the chair. The nurse or doctor will then place the weight platform under your wheels and ask you to sit still while they get a reading.
Beam balance scalesThese scales have a beam that you sit on and a weight platform under your feet.Use this by sitting on a beam and then calibrating the scale by moving the weights until the beam is level. Once it is level, the scale will give you a reading.
Bed scalesHealth care facilities typically use these scales for persons with disabilities, injuries, or bedridden.The scale is placed under the mattress, and then the patient is rolled over it to get a weight.
Digital bathroom scalesThese scales have a digital display and typically weigh 0.2 lb (0.1 kg).To use this type of scale, step on it and wait for the reading. You may need to adjust your position until the scale reads 0.0.

FAQs

How do you subtract a wheelchair from weight?

Know the weight of your wheelchair, which is generally 15 to 50lbs, and then subtract it from the total weight.

Remove any extra weight from your wheelchair before calibrating the scale to get an accurate reading.

What should the scale be balanced at before weighing on a wheelchair?

The scale should be balanced at 0.0 before you get on it.

How does a wheelchair scale work?

Most wheelchair scales have a weight platform that goes under your wheels. You will need to transfer into the chair to use this type of scale.

Conclusion

There you have it.

As you can see, there are many different options for wheelchair users to weigh themselves. So, if you are ever curious about your weight or need to track it for health reasons, be sure to check out the methods I listed above!

someone on a scale

Have you found a way how to weigh someone in a wheelchair? Please share with us your knowledge in the comment section below!

 References

  • 1. 5 Rules to Weighing Yourself — and When to Ditch the Scale [Internet]. Healthline. 2019. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercises/weigh-yourself-guidelines
  • 2. Marateb HR, Mansourian M, Adibi P, Farina D. Manipulating measurement scales in medical statistical analysis and data mining: A review of methodologies. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences [Internet]. 2014;19:47–56. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963323/
  • 3. https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=25276.wba [Internet]. directives.sc.egov.usda.gov. Available from: https://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=25276.wba
  • 4. Adults. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults [Internet]. Nih.gov. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 1998. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2003/
  • 5. Weight management services [Internet]. Vic.gov.au. 2012. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/weight-management-services
About Lamia A Kader, MD

Lamia A Kader is a Medical Doctor and a Medical Research Professional with a Ph.D. in Clinical Research. ISMMS, USA. She had enhanced her medical knowledge of medical devices and equipment development and innovation by attending clinical meetings, local national courses, journal clubs, and conferences, in addition to e-learning, subscribing to major medical journals and keeping an eye on latest trends in medicine and keeping an eye on clinical trials industry and healthcare marketing current trends. She had participated in several medical device innovation projects by conducting clinical research studies, developing clinical trial protocols, writing patient safety narratives and “Medical Device Risk Assessment Reports” to transform new medical technologies into real products that save and improve lives. Follow her on LINKEDIN. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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