Wheelchair Seating Clinic
Whether you’re looking for your first wheelchair or replacing your current one, you should carefully consider your options.
It’s important to find a wheelchair that’s both comfortable and functional. This is especially true if you can no longer get around without a wheelchair.
Although choosing the right equipment can greatly improve your quality of life, making that choice can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, University of Iowa Health Care can help you make an informed decision.
Our wheelchair seating clinic offers a convenient, one-stop experience for wheelchair fitting, selection, and insurance authorization.
You’ll work with professionals trained to recognize which wheelchairs are best suited to your needs and goals.
You’ll also receive formal recommendations from both a doctor and a physical therapist. Most health insurance plans require this before they’ll approve wheelchair coverage.
Helping you choose the right wheelchair
Our wheelchair seating clinic brings together the following mobility experts:
Physiatrists (doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
Representatives from wheelchair suppliers (wheelchair vendors)
Together, we’ll help you select a wheelchair that offers the best combination of fit and function. This includes electric wheelchairs (also known as power wheelchairs or motorized wheelchairs) and mobility scooters.
We’ll also evaluate:
Your posture and balance when you sit in different types of wheelchairs
Whether you feel any pain or discomfort
The condition of your skin where your body comes into contact with the wheelchair
Wheelchair pressure mapping
Our wheelchair seating clinic also has access to a computerized tool called pressure mapping, if needed.
We perform this assessment while you’re seated in a wheelchair. It shows us whether there are high pressure points on any areas where your body touches the seat.
This is important, because prolonged pressure on the skin can cause tissue damage. Your skin may break down, leading to open wounds called pressure ulcers (pressure sores).
Using pressure mapping, we compare different seat surfaces and cushions to find one that reduces your risk of pressure ulcers.
What to expect
We offer exceptional guidance and support to first-time and long-time wheelchair users.
Before your appointment
To get started, you’ll need a referral to our clinic from your primary care provider or specialist. Once we’ve received the referral, we’ll contact you to schedule your appointment.
At this time, we’ll also confirm whether you’ve already chosen a wheelchair vendor.
If you’ve chosen a vendor, we’ll invite them to your appointment. If you haven’t chosen a vendor, we’ll give you a list of local options to choose from, but it’s strongly preferred to have selected your vendor before your appointment.
During your appointment
Your appointment will take about 90 minutes. During this time, we’ll:
Review your medical history
Perform a physical examination, including a functional assessment
Discuss your goals
Teach you about different wheelchair models and features
Help you try different wheelchairs
After your appointment
Once you’ve chosen your wheelchair, we’ll give our recommendations and any necessary documentation to the wheelchair vendor. The vendor will submit the required paperwork to your health insurance company.
Your insurance company will confirm whether your chair is covered, and how much of the cost they’ll cover.
Then, the wheelchair vendor will contact you to arrange delivery of your equipment.
After you’ve received your wheelchair, we encourage you to schedule a follow-up visit with one of our physical therapists. During this visit, we can:
Make sure your wheelchair has been set up and configured properly
Show you how to use your wheelchair safely and effectively
Teach you best practices that can maximize your mobility and lower your risk of pressure ulcers
If your condition changes at any time after receiving your wheelchair, don’t hesitate to contact us. We may be able to modify your wheelchair so it remains comfortable and functional.
Who can benefit from a wheelchair seating evaluation?
Have a chronic condition that impairs mobility, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or muscular dystrophy
Have hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) after a stroke or spinal cord injury
Have paraplegia or quadriplegia (paralysis in the lower half of the body or from the neck down)
Had lower limb amputation