For people with spinal cord injury, clothing plays a crucial role in everyday life. In fact, choosing the right garments can make all the difference in their comfort, well-being and self-confidence. Here are some tips and suggestions for selecting clothing that is both practical and comfortable for wheelchair users.

    1. Choose wheelchair trousers

    Wheelchair trousers are specially designed to improve comfort and functionality for wheelchair users. These trousers have a raised back panel, no seams at pressure points and feature longer trouser legs. Choose trousers with some stretch for optimal freedom of movement.

    wheelchair trousers for people with spinal cord injury
    As a wheelchair user, choose wheelchair trousers

    2. Avoid pressure on sensitive areas

    When selecting clothing, it is important to avoid putting too much pressure on areas where bones lie close to the skin, such as the hips, tailbone and spine. Tight clothing can cause friction and pressure points, which can cause discomfort and even skin irritation during prolonged sitting.

    3. Suitable clothing for catheterisation

    For people with spinal cord injury who need to probe from their wheelchair, it is useful to choose garments that provide easy access to this. Skirtsor trousers with extra-deep zips or trousers with side zips are good options to make toilet visits easier without the need to undress completely.

    Wheelchair trousers with side zips for sondage in spinal cord injury
    To probe easily, it is best to choose trousers with extra-deep zips or side zips

    4. wheelchair jackets

    Wheelchair jackets for active wheelchair users are designed with extra length at the back and a slit or extra fabric at the side for a perfect fit. The sleeves have a wide sleeve inset, allowing sufficient freedom of movement while wheelchair riding. The wheelchair jackets also often feature extra reinforcement on the sleeves to prevent wear and tear from wheelchair riding.

    Wheelchair jacket for people with spinal cord injury
    Wheelchair jacket for people with spinal cord injury

    For the passive wheelchair user, you can opt for a cape, poncho or jacket with back recess. This significantly reduces the number of actions required to put on and take off the jacket and offers comfort to the wheelchair user.

    poncho or cape
    A poncho or cape is very comfortable and easy to put on or take off

    5. Shirts with magnetic buttons

    People with fine motor problems may benefit from shirts with magnetic buttons. These buttons are easy to close and open with minimal effort, making dressing a lot easier.

    shirts with magnetic buttons
    Shirts with magnetic buttons are ideal for people with fine motor problems

    Shirts with Velcro fasteners are also an alternative for people with limited hand function, however, these are slightly less ideal for maintenance. In the meantime, remember to close the fasteners before putting them in the washing machine.

    6. Adapted shoes

    Putting on and taking off shoes can be very difficult when someone has fine-motor problems. People with a spinal cord injury also often suffer from swollen feet, making regular shoes not an option. Billy Footwear's shoes offer the solution to this problem: they feature a handy zip so laces do not have to be tied and are available in 3 different widths.

    Billy shoes are suitable for people with spinal cord injury
    Billy Footwear: shoes with zip opening and available in 3 widths.

    7. Choose the right underwear

    Seamless underwear is ideal for minimising pressure points and friction, especially when sitting in a wheelchair for long periods of time. Choose underwear made of soft and breathable materials to prevent skin irritation and increase comfort.

    There are also boxer shorts and briefs with horizontal or vertical openings to make probing easy from the wheelchair.

    underwear for sondage in people with spinal cord injury
    Underwear with horizontal opening for probing

    8. Breathable fabrics

    Clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton helps wick away excess moisture and keeps the skin dry and comfortable. These fabrics are ideal for everyday wear, especially during hot weather or prolonged periods of sitting.

    By paying attention to the fit, fabric choice and functionality of clothing, people with spinal cord injury can be more comfortable and confident during their daily activities.

    Do you have any questions after reading this blog? Do not hesitate to contact us. As occupational therapists, we will be happy to help you with tailored advice.


    Sofie and Jessie