A List of Wheelchair and Seating Words

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  1. Adaptation - means finding another way to do things. It's partly being creative about solving problems and and partly being insistant about getting back to the things that are important to you. "Adaptive thinking" involve making changes in your everyday environment. Some examples are: changing how you do certain tasks or activities, changing the "tools" you use to do them or changing the features of places by doing things like adding ramps, widening doorways or getting rid of throw rugs.When you can learn to think "adaptively" you are using the best parts of human nature--resilience and creativity!
  2. ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act. The civil rights law for people with disabilities passed in 1990, which contain protections for employment, transportation, access to telecommunications, and access to public places.
  3. ADAAG - Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. Guidelines, issued by Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, which give dimensions and standards to the architectural features required by the ADA.
  4. Assistive Steering Devices – Assistive steering devices are selected based of the client’s need. They cover the range from reduced effort steering to compensate for reduced strength, to joystick steering to allow one handed control of steering, braking and acceleration to spinner knobs to allow for steering with one hand.
  5. ATP (Assistive Technology Provider) - This Credential is given by RESNA to indicate years of experience and competence to practice in the area of assistive technology. The ATP credential can be earned by occupational, physical and speech therapists, audiologists, special eduators and others who provide direct evaluation and training services to clients with assistive technology needs. To read more about this see an article written by Jim Lenker entitled: Certification in Assistive Technology.
  6. ATS (Assistive Technology Supplier) - This Credential is given by RESNA to indicate years of experience and knowledge to practice in the area of supplying rehabilitation technology devices. The ATS credential can be earned by professionals with knowledge of equipment and funding options. They agree to practice within the scope of their knowlege and to abide by a code of ethical behavior. A similar credential is the CRTS, which is given by NRRTS to their members who earned the ATS certification.
  7. Axle - the part at the center of a wheel; a wheel rotates around an axle with the help of ball bearings.
  8. Body mechanics - refers to the best or safest body position to use in order to accomplish a heavy task.
  9. Casters - the two small wheels at the front (or the rear) of the wheelchair which swivel in all directions. They contribute to the maneuverability of the wheelchair and come in either solid or pneumatic styles.
  10. Camber - the off-vertical tilt of the large wheels of a wheelchair, which increases the chair's stability and brings the tops of the wheels closer to the user. It also makes the wheelchair wider.
  11. Crossbrace - the center frame of the wheelchair, which is just below the seat. On folding wheelchair, crossbraces join the two sides of the wheelchair frame together, as well as providing support for seating.
  12. Custom - as in a frame or a wheelchair, when either are built to an individual's specifications.
  13. Dump - the angle between the seat rail (the two side rails that go from front to back on either side of the seat) and the floor, though it commonly means an exaggerated angle.
  14. Durable Medical Equipment (DME) - The general category of equipment which includes wheelchairs, bath benches, hospital beds, bedside comodes and walker etc. Also see Rehabilitation Technology Supplier.
  15. Evaluation - the service offered by rehabilitation professionals, such as occupational or physical therapists, who work with their client to assemble equipment specifications and then justify the need for those specifications to third-party payers.
  16. Electromagnetic Interference - occurs when some device in a person's environment emits electromagnetic energy that is not compatible with the sensitive electronics incorporated into many medical devices such as power wheelchairs. This causes the wheelchair to behave abnormally. For example, a cellular phone can interfere with the controller of the power wheelchair so that the chair moves unexpectedly or erratically.
  17. Fork - the part that attaches the front wheel or caster to the frame of the wheelchair.
  18. Footrests - the place where the wheelchair user can rest his/her feet and it is also called a foot plate.
  19. Hand Control – a mechanical system that allows for operation of both the gas and brake pedals by either hand and is accomplished by means of a combination lever mounted to the steering column.
  20. Hemi wheelchair - a chair with a low seat-to-floor height that allows for foot propulsion of the wheelchair.
  21. HCFA - Healthcare Finance Administration, which is the funding/reimbursement agency for Medicare which pays for wheelchairs.
  22. Mag wheels - wheels, usually made of composite material, with either 7 or 9 spokes.
  23. Pneumatic - involving "air" as in air-filled or pneumatic tires.
  24. Posture - the alignment of the body. Posture can affect how you feel and how you function in your wheelchair, especially over the long run.
  25. Pressure - or more accurately, interface pressure, which is the measure of the force exerted over an area of the body due to contact with a seating support surface. If sensation is impaired, the person does not realize that they need to change position and relieve the pressure.
  26. Propel - making a wheelchair move. It can be by "hand," as in manual propulsion, or by motor.
  27. Push handle - the handles on the back of some wheelchairs that make it easier for an attendant to push the chair from behind.
  28. Push rims - the ring on the sides of the rear wheels of a wheelchair where the hands are placed for propelling the wheelchair. They can be plain aluminum, coated with plastic or even fitted with projections that make it possible to push forward with the heel of the palm.
  29. Quick-release axle - a push-button, removable axle that allows quick removal of rear wheel from a wheelchair for transporting it.
  30. Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers (RTS) - these are the professionals who sell you your wheelchair. This means that they specify the order to the manufacturer, deliver the chair to you and adjust it to your needs and later service or repair your wheelchair. They are also sometimes called Durable Medical Equipment salespersons.
  31. Scooter versus Power wheelchair - both are forms of indpendent power mobility.
  32. Seat angle - the angle between the seat rail and the floor.
  33. Seat height - the distance from floor to either the front or the rear of the wheelchair seat.
  34. Service delivery - is health care jargon that refers to the way an organization sets up the processes and procedures they will use to get their services delivered to you.
  35. Side slope - a slope that is traveled "across" rather than up or down, where one wheel of the wheelchair is higher than the other.
  36. Third Party Payers - the term that applies to anyone other than the consumer or the end-user who pays for a piece of rehabilitation or durable medical equipment. A third party payer could be a private or public (like Medicare or Medicaid) health insurance corporation or a charitable organization like the Multiple Sclerosis Society or United Cerebral Palsy.
  37. Tires - the solid rubber or air-filled rubber/synthetic part of the wheel that makes contact with the floor.
  38. Third-party payer - the party (other than the user) that actually pays for a wheelchair, such as an insurance company, Medicare, the Veterans Administration or an organization such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  39. Wheelbase - the distance between center of front caster on the wheelchair and the center of the rear wheel.
  40. Wheelchair accessible - the characteristic of a building or a public place that lets a person using a wheelchair to move around without interference and with access to all the features of that place.
  41. Wheelchair Standards - the terms, definitions, design requirements, performance requirements, test methods and disclosure requirements of
    wheelchairs that are agreed upon and formalized by a national or international standards organization.
  42. Wheelie - balancing on the two rear wheels of a manual wheelchair. This skill is useful for dealing with obstacles such as curbs or uneven surfaces like ramps or hills.

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Last Updated: 3-2-2006

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No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WheelchairNet and the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.


Please note: This information is provided a archival information from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility from 1993 to 2002.

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