What You Should Know About Wheelchair Leg-Rests

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Published: 16th March 2011
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What You Should Know About Wheelchair Elevating Leg-Rests

Most wheelchairs have a number of items that are adjustable and that can be aligned, as well, for comfort and convenience. These leg-rests are used to elevate the legs placing them in extended, knee-straight positions with "calf-pads" that are either padded or covered with a hard, plastic material. Foot-plates and calf-pads can be adjusted for improved alignment and foot-placement, as well. Some of these devices have an articulating feature that allows them to be extended and become longer as the leg is elevated. Usually, they are ordered for the control of foot and/or leg edema (swelling).


1. Maintains the leg in an extended position. This works well for those users who have limited knee flexion (knee fixed in a straight-position) or for those who require this position, after an operation.

2. On a chair with a powered recline-system, powered elevating leg-rests are useful in helping a user obtain a supine-position (lying on oneís back) or a reclining position, independently.

3. The ability to change the leg-positions is sometimes helpful in resolving discomfort or pain-issues in the lower extremities.

4. Consider This: Are you using or prescribing these "leg-elevators" out-of-habit, out of necessity, user preference or by the vendorís recommendation? It might be time to reconsider this item.


1. With the use of these "leg-rests" comes an increase in weight of the wheelchair, itself, plus an

increase in the cost.

2. It has a number of moving parts that may "lock-up" or become difficult to manipulate, rarely.

3. It requires a certain amount of coordination and strength to work this item, without assistance.

The user must bend over to one side, depress a lever and lift the leg and device, all at once.

4. The extent of edema (swelling) control is questionable. In the most elevated position, the extremity is nowhere near the level of the userís heart.

5. Depending on the length of the userís leg, elevating the leg may result in somewhat flexing of

the knee.

6. When the leg is elevated, it makes the chair longer resulting in the need for increased turning radius and space and possibly, re-positioning of the legs and hips.

7. After a period of time, these elevating "rests" become warped or worn from the weight of supporting the legs and may become abducted (away from each other), when loaded, resulting in poor positioning of the legs and hips.

8. An integral part is the leg-supporting pad that may push against the user's calves, pulling the user forward on the seat, resulting in a "sacral-sitting" (slouched) position.

9. The joint at the highest-point of these devices may rub on the outside of the user's leg.

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