Hesperian Health Guides

Wheelchair with Lying Board

In this chapter:

Photo of wheelchair with wooden lying board on top.

This is useful for an active child who must lie face down to heal pressure sores or to stretch hip and knee contractures.

The board is sloped so that the child can play, look ahead, and move about more easily. If necessary, you can make the lying board adjustable so that the child can rest lying flat. This helps to improve circulation and to prevent swelling of the feet.

After the pressure sores heal, the lying board can be removed and the frame is easily adapted to form a lightweight wheelchair.

The design we show uses a simple, non-folding steel tube wheelchair frame with a wooden lying board mounted on top. However, many other designs are possible. (See, for example, this photo of a lying and standing wood wheelchair.)

Side-view drawing of wheelchair with lying board on top.

Lying board should be well padded with thick foam rubber. If necessary, cut out a hole for urine to pass through (line hole with thin plastic so the foam rubber stays dry).
angle iron
footrest (height and angle adjustable)
bicycle wheels
6” casters
For tall persons, place the casters farther from the big wheels to help prevent tipping.

and with other additions

Drawing of wheel chair with lying board without the lying board.

removable handle for pushing
¾" round thin-wall tubing (or 1" tubing for adults) or use square tubing
shopping or book basket
heel strap
front bar forms footrest
¾" square tubing. Use 1" for persons over 150 lbs (70 kg).


Attach thin wood or plywood boards with small screws so that they can be easily adjusted to leave open spaces under bony parts or sores.
Side view drawing of lying boad with person.

strong wood pole (or 1” square tubing)
rack to hold urine pot (if needed)
adjustable footrest


Drawing of lying board from above.

Make the board and wheelchair just a little wider than the child’s hips.
urine hole
height adjustment pin
angle adjustment pin
Wing bolt.
The board attaches to the chair with angle irons or wing bolts. You can make wing bolts by brazing a stiff bent wire to a bolt.


Use thin wood or plywood. (Pad sides and bottom well to prevent sores. Examine feet daily.)
Wood footrest for the lying board.


Drawing of wheel chair with lying board without the lying board.
cloth or woven plastic seat and back
book basket
Removable handle for the wheelchair with lying board.
pieces that fit into side tubes


Front caster wheel.
¾" square tubing
½" round tubing
⅝" bolt
shopping cart wheel with holes drilled for lighter weight
You should now have enough information to make a wheelchair with a lying board without step-by-step instructions. Adapt it, and make it the size to fit the child that needs it.
shows photo of child on wheelchair with lying board
shows of photo of wheelchair without lying board
Wheelchair with lying board. A wide strap holds the child in place (but take care it does not press on sores). Wheelchair without lying board.
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DVC Ch66 Page 619-8.jpg
DVC Ch66 Page 619-9.jpg
A variation of the wheelchair with lying board adapted for a child with paraplegia with both contractures and pressure sores of his hips and knees. Urine is collected in a plastic container. The wheelchair seat has been converted into a basket.

CAUTION! Remember that a child who has some pressure sores can easily get new ones. Be sure the child lies and sits so that there is little or no pressure over bony places. Examine her whole body at least once a day and try to keep her dry.
This page was updated:04 Apr 2024