Input Devices Used in the Medical Field

By Saifuddin Abdullah

The term "input devices" is used extensively to refer to those specific electronic devices which are used by humans to communicate with information-processing systems, like computers and mobiles. These devices are commonly used in everyday life, come in various forms and shapes, and are characterized by the type of data they put into information processing systems. However, in the area of medical sciences, there are few specific categories of input devices which work on the principle of providing information related to conditions and internal features of human body as input to specially designed medical equipment. These input devices are also categorized according to their input types, but they are only used in advanced medical and diagnostic facilities.

Imaging Devices

These are input devices which provide data related to human bodily features, functions and activities in the form of images to medical information processing systems. These devices are usually integrated within large electronic frameworks, and are commonly operated by experts and trained personnel. Some of the commonly used medical imaging devices include: X-ray machines; CT or computerized tomographic scanning machines; MRI or magnetic resonance imaging machines; ultrasound or medical ultrasonography machines; and PET or positron emission tomography facilities.

Pointing Devices

In everyday computing, devices like a mouse, a joystick, a trackball or remote control systems are usually called pointing devices, as they generally generate a pointing cursor on the visual display units of computer systems. Similarly, in the medical field, there are some specialty pointing devices which are used in controlling information-processing systems of hospitals and medical facilities. These are not like common pointing devices, and their physical features as well as functions are far more advanced in terms of applications. These pointing devices are usually hand-held, and are used to perform operations over medical imaging equipment.

Medical Keyboards

These are advanced keyboards which are used to enter text-based commands and functions into information-processing systems at medical facilities. Medical keyboards usually contain some specific keys that instruct computers or other facilities to perform specific medical operations over the human subjects, and mostly have touchpad systems integrated within their architecture. Furthermore, these keyboards come under different brand names, are larger in size as compared to conventional keyboards and are built according to specific medical-field specifications.

ECG Electrodes

This is one of the oldest forms of input devices used in the area of medical sciences. ECG or electrocardiography is the process of measuring human cardiac activities, and for this purpose, specifically designed electrical equipment called an ECG machine is used. An ECG machine takes its input information in the form of electrical pulses, which are provided by small metallic pads known as electrodes. These electrodes serve as input devices of an ECG machine by sticking on the human body , and perform the task of converting mechanical waves from heartbeats into electrical pulses, which are interpreted by the ECG machine.