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16th March 2023

The Assessment Process

Useful tips and resources to consider when conducting a seating assessment.

A recent poll on our social media revealed that 56% of Occupational Therapists felt they lacked confidence when conducting a seating assessment.

Our latest blog details the three main areas you should look at, critical measurements and downloadable templates you can use to justify your decisions and recommendations.

Identifying Seating Goals During An Assessment

A proper seating assessment involves testing the range of motion at the person's joints, identifying fixed and flexible components and assessing how they present from a postural perspective in their current chair or bed.

You must remember to look for the source of the problem instead of just treating the symptom and in a person who has an abnormal posture, the earlier an assessment is carried out the greater the chance of preventing further deterioration.

If possible and with consent, it is a good idea to take before and after photos. This will help to jog your memory when looking over a case and note any significant changes.

The goals of seating can be divided into three main areas;

  • Activity Related Functions.
  • Psychological Functions.
  • Physiological Functions.

In order to achieve these goals, your assessment must aim to provide a chair which will;

  • Support the user’s body.
  • Manage their skin and pressure needs.
  • Provide comfort.
  • Ensure safety.

Often, the parties concerned with provision of the chair will have different views as to what are the main goals to be achieved from seating. The therapist may be concerned with function, the main issue for the user may be comfort and the caregiver may want a chair which is:

  • Easy to adjust and set up.
  • Easily adapted to changing pressure needs.
  • Easily cleaned.
  • Easily transported.
  • Easily maintained.

It is important for you to identify the main goals from each different perspective and prioritise them to the top 3 goals to be achieved from a particular chair.

Critical Measurements

When the chair is set to meet the person’s postural needs, it is important to record their corrected position.

Top Tips

  • Keep the measuring tape straight so as not to curve around the client.
  • You could use a firm surface like wood, or a book as a guide for the actual dimensions such as seat width.
  • Ask for assistance of another person.

1. Seat Width
The widest part of the person is not always at the hips. You must consider trochanter width, ischial width and the trunk width. Windsweeping must also be considered.

2. Seat Depth
The person’s leg length is measured as the back of the buttock to popliteal fossa. The seat depth should be approximately 1 inch shorter than this. Measure
left and right sides separately in case of a leg length discrepancy.

3. Seat to Floor Height, or Seat to Footplate Height
This is measured as the distance from the popliteal fossa to the heel.

4. Footrest Angle and Footrest Width
Record how the feet should be supported according to plantar/dorsiflexion or inversion/eversion.

5. Back Height and Angle
Back height is measured from the seat of the chair to the desired height of the back of the chair, according to the level and type of support needed. Record the optimum back angle and note if this is to be fixed or can be adjusted.

6. Armrest Height
This is crucial in supporting and maintaining good posture. Measure the arm height for each arm.

At the end of the assessment it is important to document your results and the outcome.


Use these templates as a supplement to your current documentation and in accordance with your facility or local regulations.

Download Template I - Goals

Download Template II - Decisions & Recommendations

Book a Free Seating Assessment

Get in touch to arrange a free, no obligation seating assessment, alongside Seating Matters products in your facility at a time that suits you.

You can book an assessment online here.

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