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Wheelchair Back & Seat Angle

The angle of the seat controls stability - and safety - for the rider.

Your wheelchair seat does not necessarily need to be parallel to the ground. On custom wheelchairs, the seats are sometimes higher in the front, sloping down toward the back. The angle of the seat compared to the ground is known as "seat dump" or "rake."

Having some degree of seat dump means that more of your weight presses against the wheelchair back making you feel more stable in your seat. People with higher level spinal disabilities gain security and safety with the use of seat dump. Manual riders are able to exert more push with less effort through their arms and shoulders.

Many chairs have the ability to adjust seat dump. The rigid frame designs in ultra-light wheelchairs, and the modularization of power designs made it easier to adjust the angle of the seat, since the seat support rails are no longer part of the chair’s folding mechanism. On a folding wheelchair these rails are fixed, so to change the seat angle you can change the position of the wheel axles relative to the entire frame. Raising the rear axles to a higher position has the effect of lowering the rear of the wheelchair and so increases the seat dump. It might also be possible to raise the caster height or use different size casters, achieving the same effect.

There are tradeoffs for the advantages of seat dump:

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