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If you are unable to stand

To Measure

Weight & Height

Doctors need updates to assess your nutritional status and decide on suitable treatments. Amusement parks use height to determine your eligibility to access certain attractions; and airlines will ask you the weight of your wheelchair. 

Height can only be estimated. Not only do steroids confound, but for long bones to grow to their genetically predicted length they need the stimulation on the growth plates, afforded by the percussive movements of much upright walking, running and jumping.


If you are no longer weight-bearing, how can you measure your height and weight? If you cannot bear weight and stand up straight, wall tape measures are of no use.

There are many different methods you can use to calculate your height but complications of one kind or another mean we can only provide an estimate - at best.

After you have stopped growing, your height should remain stable until middle age, when height begins to decline slightly.


Arm span, demispan and knee height methods are no longer considered useful methods for estimating height. The correct tools are often not handy, such as anthopometer used by the same professional. Using a tape to follow the line of a contracture or measuring across a joint is also best avoided.

The ulna length method is the most practical and accurate, requiring access to either a calculator or a chart of the correlations - see the chart for adults below. 

 Tip: Try out the Measure app on your smart phone, to measure the line of your forearm.



Measure between the point of the elbow and the midpoint of the prominent bone of the wrist. (little finger side)

Find your approx height by matching ulna length, gender and age.

Leanne Gauld developed extremely precise ulna length formulas in a study of school-aged children:

       For males, height (cm)=4.605U+1.308A+28.003 (R2=0.96) 
       For females, height (cm)=4.459U+1.315A+31.485 (R2=0.94)



If you attend a specialist MD clinic, a chair scale or patient lift scale is used. But weighing yourself can be as easy as driving onto a weighbridge. Follow Doug’s steps whenever you are in the vicinity of your local hospital. Locate the dialysis unit and ask to use the weighbridge. NB. The first time will take longer.

*    The contents of backpack, wallet etc will vary from day to day and the whole bag must be removed for a bare weight. Your backpack should always  contain: urinal, ambubag, emergency contacts, emergency card  and a roll of tape.  See  Portable Ventilator Precautions, available at

1. Before driving onto the weighbridge, including the first time, remove your backpack,  wallet and any other items.

You will need to leave your ventilator bag on, but empty all compartments. Your tray and non-standard attachments should also be removed.*

2. The first time, you will need to transfer to the closest chair or hospital bed and wait for your carer to weigh your bare chair without you.

Record the exact weight of your wheelchair so that you don't have to get out again, and as a handy reference eg. checking-in your wheelchair before a flight etc.

3. Once you have the wheelchair weight recorded, remove shoes and heavy clothing before transfering back, to record the combined total weight.
Subtract the weight of the wheelchair to determine your approx weight in light clothes.

Next time, you don't have to transfer out of your chair.