How to Set Up the Correct Position for the Wheelchair Footplates


The footplates support the user to maintain the correct posture whilst sitting in a wheelchair. If the footplates are in the incorrect position this can cause strain on the user’s back, lower thighs, and hip bones.

If the footplates are too low, then the user will experience unnecessary strain on their upper thighs and behind the knees. If the footplates are too high then there will be extra pressure on the hip bones. If the user sits in the incorrect position for long periods of time can, it can lead to lower back pain, excessive pressure on the hip and thigh area as well as problems with digestion. 

A demonstration of the footplates being too high or too low. Source: KARMA Medical YouTube | How to prepare your S-Ergo 125

What is the correct way to set up a wheelchair footplate?

The correct way to set up the footplates is when the user is sat with their buttocks all the way to the backrest with their thighs parallel to the seat. The angle behind the knee should be less than 90° when the feet are flat on the footrests. 

How the user’s thighs should look lined up with the wheelchair seat when footplates are in the correct position. Source: KARMA Medical YouTube | How to prepare your S-Ergo 125

What if the user’s legs have contracture?

The wheelchair footplates are designed to accommodate most user’s body conditions. However, a user with tight hamstrings or contracture might not even be able to put their feet flat on the footplates. For these users, if the user is forced to lift their legs up too high on the footplates, the hamstrings will be overstretched, which is uncomfortable. This will cause the user to slide down the wheelchair and collapse their body into a more “comfortable” position. 

The solution is to allow the user to put their feet under the chair, to save them from overstretching their muscles and keeping their knee angle under 90°. Loosening the leg straps will allow the user to put the legs as far back as possible under the chair.

An alternative option would be to repurpose the leg straps to hang under the seat completely to support the feet this way. This is maybe something you can do at home when it’s not necessary for the user to have their feet on the footplates. It is important to adapt the wheelchair to the user’s needs. 

Adapting the leg straps on Agile and attaching them to another part of the frame will prevent elderly users from sliding down the wheelchair as they will have a more comfortable footrest.

Left: Original position. Right: Repurposed position.

We’re here to help

Changing the position of the footplates is just one way to prevent the user from sliding down the wheelchair as well as maintain a good posture. Other functions such as reclining and tilting wheelchairs can also have the same effect, you can read more about these here. KARMA Malaysia is always here to assist. Talk to a KARMA representative today! 

Call us: 03-5612 1921 / 010 – 238 1921

Email us: [email protected]