The Best Adaptive Clothing For Wheelchair Users

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Finding clothes dedicated to wheelchair users can be quite sparse and time-consuming. Fortunately, adaptive clothing also caters to those with limited mobility. Read further to look into some of the best adaptive clothing for wheelchair users for you to consider.

Adaptive Clothing For Wheelchair Users

Finding clothes dedicated to wheelchair users can be quite sparse and time-consuming. Fortunately, adaptive clothing also caters to those with limited mobility. Read further to look into some of the best adaptive clothing for wheelchair users for you to consider.

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors.
I may earn a commission on items purchased from affiliate links in this guide. Learn More.

Many people that live with a physical disability often experience difficulties and challenges when trying to get dressed, especially when the clothing is not adapted in such a way to make it an easier process.

Finding and searching for clothing dedicated to wheelchair users, which is made to specifically work for the wearer, can be quite limited and very time-consuming.

Fortunately, the tides have changed, and adaptive clothing dedicated to wheelchair users is increasing in availability. 

What Is Adaptive Clothing?

Adaptive clothing for disabled adults is geared toward making it easier to dress yourself or be dressed by others. It is also worth mentioning that there are also designs and styles that match up to each challenge that an individual might face.

People that benefit directly from adaptive garments are those that have sensory issues or those that find it a challenge to get dressed. 

What Challenges Do Wheelchair Users Have Getting Dressed?

For wheelchair users getting undressed, or dressed, in clothing that is non-adaptive can be an issue. One of the main challenges that may wheelchair users face is fastenings, buttons, and zips that are hard to use or reach. 

How Can Clothing Choices Interfere With Wheelchair Use?

Wheelchair users that are constantly in a seated condition often experience sensitivity in their legs when it comes to temperature changes. Prolonged sitting can also lead to pressure sores or ulcers. 

Unsuitable clothing can impact the user of the wheelchair’s comfort and their health. For instance, clothes that are creased, wrinkled, or with pronounced seams may cause or exacerbate ulcers or pressure sores.

Unsuitable clothing can also include items that are too long that may get stuck in the wheels of the wheelchair. 

How Can Adaptive Clothing Make Life Easier For Wheelchair Users?

People that suffer from reduced mobility, and wheelchair users, often find it beneficial to wear adaptive clothing.

This is the type of clothing that is designed specifically for individuals that are spending most of their days in one position (seated) or for those that find it difficult to move or dress. 

Adaptive clothing is often comfortable and helps those that are wearing it to perform their daily activities more easily. These garment types can also allow for more independence or to make the tasks of a family member or caregiver easier when bathing or dressing a person in a wheelchair. 

Adaptive clothing is often beneficial for wheelchair users due to several features such as:

  • Side openings in skirts or trousers allow a wheelchair user to get dressed while lying down or in bed. 
  • Velcro closures or fastenings (hooks) are much easier for a wheelchair-bound person to use when compared to zips and buttons.
  • Softer fabrics that can withstand regular washing are also beneficial since they are kinder and more gentle on the body.

What Types of Adaptive Clothing Are Recommended for Wheelchair Users?

Traditionally, the examples of the types of adaptive clothing that a wheelchair user can benefit from include:

  • Open back gowns, incontinence sleepwear, and protective sheets for bedridden people. 
  • Wheelchair coveralls that have been cut to the correct size to cover both the wheelchair users or any exposed parts of a wheelchair to make sure the user remains dry and to stop the wheelchair from getting damaged if it is exposed to water such as rain. 
  • Thermal wraps and blankets will allow a wheelchair user to venture outdoors when it is cold outside. 
  • Adaptive trousers that have been designed with features and a cut in mind, making them easy to remove or put on. The trousers should also be customized to the needs of the individual. 

Examples Of Adaptive Clothing For Wheelchair Users

1. Ovidis Chris Back-Panel Adaptive Pants for Men

Timeless, clean-cut twill for a softer feel and ultimate comfort. These are pants made for people that use diapers. Featuring 2 back panels that close securely using a large Velcro band. This ensures that the wearer’s underwear is covered completely but easy to access. 

Features:

  • Perfect for lying-down or seated dressing
  • Ideal for people with compromised hand dexterity or limited mobility in the area of the lower body. 
  • Makes undressing and dressing pain-free and simple
  • The back panels secure with easy to adjust Velcro tabs
  • Back closure for easier caregiver-assisted dressing
  • Machine washable quality fabrics that provide stretch and comfort

2. Ovidis Sara Women’s Back-Panel Adaptive Pants

Straight-leg, go-to basic, adjustable-waist pants.

Features:

  • Perfect for lying-down or seated dressing
  • Work well for people that have weak hand dexterity and limited body mobility
  • 2 overlapping panels at the back for convenient slip-on comfort and easy access
  • Easy care and easy wear

3. Ovidis Heritage Men’s Adaptive Cardigan

The Cardigan Heritage is a real head-turner. With a classic V-neck, the twisted cables are comfortable, cozy, and ultra-soft. The heather yarns and faux-front panel make it the perfect staple for your closet that you can combine it with any shirt. 

Features:

  • Pain-free and easy access dressing
  • Snap closures for easier caregiver-assisted dressing
  • Made for people with limited range of motion or constrained arm mobility
  • The discreet design and full-back overlap make these garments look like normal clothing

4. Gianna Open Back Adaptive Top For Women

This fashionable open-back cozy-knit top features a luxurious look and feel with an eye-catching floral print. Fantastic for disabled/seniors/elderly adults suffering from arthritis, Alzheimer’s, limited mobility, dementia, or those that are dependent on a wheelchair.

The snap closures on this garment make dressing easier for either the wearer or the caregiver that assists with dressing.

Features:

  • Makes undressing and dressing pain-free and simple
  • The convenient snap closures are located around the area of the shoulders to alleviate painful pressure points
  • Dignified dressing
  • Machine washable fabrics that provide comfort and stretch

5. Silvert’s Unisex Adaptive Fleece Wheelchair Cape

The perfect outdoor apparel dedicated to wheelchair users. This polar fleece wheelchair/Poncho Cape Coat works well for cool nights and cooler weather. The back is shorter, so you don’t have to worry about the garment getting caught in the wheels. It comes with an attached hood and a front zipper to the waist. This provides easy and convenient access. 

Features:

  • Easy access to dressing
  • The cozy hoodie helps to keep the head warm
  • Made to keep cold weather out without feeling heavy
  • Polyester machine washable fabric

6. Renova Tearaway Pants

Renova Medical Wear Inc. is passionate about creating high-quality, long-lasting, and affordable Post Surgery Clothing.

The SnapWear Post Surgery Sweatpants are made for individuals that are wheelchair-bound or those that have limited mobility that has been caused by an external fixation device or post-surgery recovery. 

Features:

  • Snap closure
  • Machine washable 
  • 100% Polyester
  • Premium polyester fleece with a flexible yet soft feel
  • Ideal for people with limited mobility 

7. Collections Soft Fleece Bed Jacket

Button-down soft fleece nightshirt that features convenient pockets. This button-down bed jacket offers added coverage over your nightgown or pajamas.

This product comes in 4 sizes: M, L, XL, or XXL. Features a collar, pockets, and a full button-down front. The polyester fabric is also machine washable.


8. Pembrook Men’s Elastic Waist Pants

The Pembrook elastic-waist pants for men come with a fully-elastic waistband with no zippers or button/snap closures which makes them really easy to pull off or pull on. This relaxed and comfortable fit also makes this garment the perfect pull-on pants for men in rehab.

Other features also make this product ideal for the elderly and seniors that are needing adaptive clothing that adjusts to their comfort needs. 

Features:

  • 40% Poly Twill Fabric, 60% Cotton
  • Machine washable
  • Easy to wear and put on 
  • Easy sizing 
  • A loose-fitting and generous design but still provides a classy-dress look
  • Timeless, versatile, and practica elastic waist pants for men
  • Convenient side-seam pockets at the front and two pockets at the back
  • Come in several colors, including gray, navy, khaki, and black
  • Made from high-quality, soft, wrinkle-resistant twill fabric that you can wash and dry in a machine. This is also why these adaptive pants for men are the perfect choice for patients in nursing or retirement homes. 

9. Pembrook Women’s Sweatsuit Sets

These Pembrook capris made for women offer a timeless design that is ultra-comfortable. Ideal for relaxing at home, daily work, or even as workwear.

These lady capri pants feature a stretchy and expandable waistband which makes them very easy to take off or pull on. The pants feature a 20″ inseam with a classic and straight shape. 

Features:

  • Comfortable and soft
  • Made from a jersey-knit, ultra-soft fabric, which is an anti-pilling quick-drying and machine-washable fabric.
  • Versatile

These ladies’ pants are not only soft but also provide an easy and comfortable fit, making them ideal for all occasions. The pull-on elastic waist style is a perfect alternative to Garbardine or Polyester pants since these fabrics look more modern and they are a lot more breathable.

The slash pockets and fully-covered elastic waistband make these garments convenient and functional. 

Other Sources Of Wheelchair Clothing 

Kinetic Balance

Kinetic Balance is an innovative company that produces and designs adaptive apparel and clothing of the highest quality dedicated to wheelchair users. The line includes jackets, Raindeks, bags, pullovers, and trendy jeans.

Users will enjoy the quality and fit made for seated positions and the way that the wearer moves. 

Adaptations By Adrian

Once known as Adrian’s Closet, Adaptations By Adrian specializes in tailoring individually-made adaptive apparel for people with special needs.

They have a focus on easing the challenges of dressing for those that are dealing with physical limitations, with the aim of making daily life easier and more convenient. 

Why?

Many wheelchair users struggle with simple tasks such as getting dressed and undressed. One of the main challenges that they face includes uncooperative legs or hands, stiffness, or requiring assistance to adjust clothing while toileting. 

Circulation issues create swelling and cold feet. People that are always in a seated position can experience pressure issues, sensitivity to things like seams or zips, and certain people cannot wear traditional store-bought clothing.

Adaptations By Adrian invites people with disabilities, such as wheelchair users, to pay their store a visit so that they can work out how to solve some of these common challenges. 

Able2Wear

Able2Wear to is one of the leading suppliers in the UK of adaptive clothing and wheelchair clothing. They work closely with professionals, carers, and wheelchair users and have been in business for more than 25 years.

They develop many different types of disabled garments to match specialist needs. 

Each item in their unique range of clothes for women and men is designed skillfully to bring style, comfort, and confidence to wearers. 

From fleeces to waterproof jackets to their award-winning wheelchair drop-front trousers, made specifically for wheelchair-bound people, these pants feature an elasticated waistband made for people that can walk and stand but have an issue with managing fastenings and zips. 

Able2Wear also offers tailor-made services, which mean if a customer is not able to find the size that they want, they can make bespoke orders according to the specific requirements of the customer. They offer both overseas delivery and UK nationwide delivery. 

RELATED: Ultimate List of Top Adaptive Clothing Brands and Retailers

Tips For Getting Yourself Dressed in a Wheelchair

Fortunately, getting dressed might be slightly harder for people that use wheelchairs, but it is not impossible. Here are a few tips that wheelchair users can use when it comes to getting dressed.

Get Dressed In Bed

Many people that use a wheelchair agree that dressing while they are still in bed seems to be the easiest way. When the person lays on their back, it becomes easier to either pull up or put on pants, which is usually the most challenging aspect when it comes to putting on clothes. 

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Most wheelchair users experience a condition known as edema, which involves fluid that accumulates in the lower legs and the feet. This often makes tight-fitting pants or shoes very painful and difficult to wear.

Look for shoes that are loose-fitting and comfortable. Sneakers or shoes with Velcro closures are a good choice. It is also possible to purchase adaptive shoes that match up to a specific condition. 

Use A Personal Aid

For wheelchair users that find it hard to get dressed, there are now several mobility options that can be helpful. Standing aids or patient lifts can hold a person in place while they put on their pants and are also very helpful when using the bathroom. 

Tips for Dressing Another Person In A Wheelchair

One of the most important caregiver tips when it comes to dressing patients is to make sure the patient feels comfortable and secure before dressing them. It is also important to treat patients with respect.

The caregiver should also focus on trying not to push or pull the patient and try their best to prevent any pain or discomfort. 

It is also suggested that the caregiver talks to their patient while they are dressing them to make sure they remain comfortable.

Encouraging patients to undress or dress is always advised, while interference should only become necessary when the person is finding it hard to get dressed or undressed. 

When dressing patients has become a challenge when it comes to independence or a difficult time for the patient and caregiver, it might be the perfect time to suggest adaptive clothing which has been specifically crafted to make the task of dressing much easier. 

FAQs

1. How Can You Modify Existing Clothing To Work Better With Wheelchairs?

Long pieces of clothing such as maxi skirts or scarves can become caught in the wheels of a wheelchair. They might look stylish, but the wearer won’t be able to move constantly and freely.

But skirts and scarves can be modified so that they do not hang down by making them shorter at the back or changing the length of a skirt.

When modifying clothes, make sure they fit close to the body and that they are not flowing. Longer tops are also recommended for women since they can make the torso look thinner. Longer tops will also stop the wearer from exposing their skin when they are leaning over. 

Short shirts are prone to riding up when the wearer sits down, so when possible, modify shirts so that they wear long to avoid exposing the belly button or back of the wearer each time they stretch or reach out.

2. Can You Make Your Own Wheelchair-Friendly Clothing? 

The best way to make wheelchair-friendly clothing is to either make a pattern of something that is already fitting well so that you can add more colors to your wardrobe.

Another popular option is to adapt or modify pre-made clothing items so that they work for you as a wheelchair user and for accessibility.

Photo of author

Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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