Since most SCI patients use wheelchairs as their sole method of locomotion, they should be equipped with a wheelchair that fits and is adjusted properly as soon as they begin out-of-bed activities. Following are the physical and skill prerequisites for positioning and doing pressure reliefs in a wheelchair, propelling wheelchairs over even and uneven terrains, navigating obstacles, such as curbs, and falling safely. Techniques to acquire the prerequisites for the following functional skills appear in the Training Strategies section.

The PoinTIS SCI Physical Therapy site of the SCI Manual for Providers is based on information in Spinal Cord Injury: Functional Rehabilitation, by M.F. Somers, Norwalk, CT, Appleton & Lange, 1992, and information in "Respiratory Rehabilitation of the Patient with a Spinal Cord Injury", by J.L. Wetzel, B.R. Lunsford, M.J. Peterson, and S.E. Alvarez, Chapter 28 in Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy, S. Irwin and J.S. Tecklin, eds., St. Louis, Mosby, 1995, unless otherwise indicated.