Wheelchair Clothing And Adaptive Clothing Designs

Just what does it mean when you are looking for wheelchair clothing or adaptive clothing designs? It can mean many things, but the most important feature with the various manufacturers is that they all provide comfortable fitting clothing.

Depending upon if you are looking for fashionable clothing for work or leisure, or something more casual it usually means looking to someone who provides specialty clothing. This does not necessarily mean that you will have to spend more money for your clothes.

If you are looking for a good fit then taking some measurements will be well worth the time invested.

Wheelchair clothing usually means clothing that is easier to get in to and out of, quicker and less painful for the user and generally has open backs with snaps, side zippers, and Velcro© or snap closures, or cut away dresses for women who do not stand making toileting easier. Back flaps are another option for those who like to wear slacks.

There are a wide variety of pants, tops and dresses that make it easier for the caregiver to dress those with limited mobility or are in a wheelchair or seated position with decreased tugging and pulling on sore arms and joints.

Adaptive wheelchair clothing includes undergarments, shirts, pants, dresses, sweaters, dusters, night gowns and night shirts. Shoes and slippers can be slip on or have hook and loop or Velcro© fasteners. Elastic laces are an alternative to tie shoes, turning them into a slip on style.

Many companies offer free labeling and will ship your order to your home or nursing home if you are ordering clothing for a loved one with special needs.

Fabric Content

Choose fabrics that can be washed repeatedly and still look nice. Fabrics that resist shrinkage in everyday washing are polyester or a combination of polyester and cotton. When choosing a cotton garment make sure that it is 50% polyester / 50% cotton or 65% polyester / 35% cotton blend. The garment will then not require ironing and will have a low shrinkage factor.

To ensure that your wheelchair clothing remains in good condition and does not shrink, it should contain less than 30% rayon, silk, linen or wool content.

Disability Differences To Keep In Mind


If you have arthritis you want to keep your clothing loose fitting and with elastic waist bands. Choose clothing that opens in front and not clothing that pulls over your head. Choose clothing with large buttons or fasteners.


Individuals with Parkinson’s can have problems with balance, and fine motor, so clothing that pulls on over the head or feet make dressing easier. Tremors and difficulty with fine motor tasks make buttons, ties and zippers a challenge.

If your balance is unsteady lie in bed to dress your legs by rolling side to side in bed, or sit in a chair with arms and a back for safety and support.


Diabetics have special circulatory concerns as approximately 65% of diabetics have some form of nerve damage. This lack or decreased sensation leads to inability to feel pain, most often in the feet, which can lead to an increased risk for infection from cuts and scrapes if undetected. You want to decrease restrictions and wearing of tight socks and shoes.


Keep your loved one who has Alzheimer’s on a regular routine and do not rush or hurry them. Use easy and familiar clothing, do not try to add layers or be fashionable with accessories. Encourage independence, label their closet and drawers making it easy for them to find items; keep choices simple such as sweat suits or pant sets that pull on with elastic waists.

Depending upon the advancement of the disease you may need to lay out their clothing in the order in which they need to put it on or hand it to them one item at a time. Encourage a regular toileting routine to decrease embarrassing moments. Be sensitive to the possibility of incontinence and consider using briefs or pads for dignity and easier toileting.

Consider a back zipper jumpsuit for men or women who may tend to undress inappropriately.

Spinal Cord Injury

If you have partial or complete paralysis from spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or stroke you want to maintain as much independence in addition to keeping dressing as easy and successful as possible.

When you look good in your clothes you also feel good and your spirits are boosted. Keeping as active as possible encourages stronger muscles. Make dressing a success by using zippers that close in front or on the side, or easy pull on clothes for weak arm muscles.

For those with paralysis in the arms, back snap dresses and tops are easy for caregivers to assist putting on and taking off. Paralysis in the legs can make dressing and bathroom use a challenge. Try using side opening pants that feature either Velcro©, side zippers, snaps or easy access back flaps.

Wheelchair clothing with back snap openings may help make assisted dressing easier for those with paralysis and for those confined to a wheelchair.

Adaptive Equipment

Some adaptive equipment can help make dressing safer and easier. Using a grabber or reacher to assist with putting your pants on is another option.

You can use a button hook or dressing stick if you have limited shoulder and hand movement or strength. Use zipper pulls for jackets or pants.

To put your socks and shoes on you can use a sock aid and long handled shoehorn; and elastic laces are available for your tie shoes.

Shopping Ease

If shopping for clothes is a hassle, check out what Elsa Hopman, designer of a wheelchair clothing measurement guide has developed to help not just those who use wheelchairs but all of us. This makes it easy to shop for the right size and style of clothes without ever having to go to the dressing room to see if it fits and looks good.

It sounds like the perfect solution whether you are a young mother with tired or energetic children, in a wheelchair and can’t get to the dressing room, or are older and undressing/dressing to try on new clothes is tiring and difficult.

She has a new patent pending measurement guide that you slip in your purse or pocket and can take with you wherever you go. To learn more about it check out her website at: www.fit4me.ca

Other providers of wheelchair clothing include Buck and Buck, Silverts, USA Jeans, IZ Collection of Adaptable Clothing, Able2Wear, and many others.


Wheelchair clothing for those with challenging physical abilities is available from several different companies. Adaptations include side zippers, elastic waist bands, back flaps , open back/snap shirts, sweaters, dresses, jackets, modified styles for those unable to stand include shortened tops and extra material for seated positions. Undergarments for dignity are also available.

Adaptive equipment is available to help make dressing safer and easier for individual performance.

Caregivers are able to dress those they care for with increased comfort and ease using the different styles of open back/shoulder snap clothing. Fasteners are strategically placed so as to not add increased pressure or skin problems.

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