What Is a Stadiometer? (with picture)

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
An infant is measured with a stadiometer while lying down.
An infant is measured with a stadiometer while lying down.

A stadiometer is a device that is used to measure height. It is most commonly found in medical facilities such as doctor’s offices. Stadiometers typically are used for regular medical exams, although they are used for other kinds of tests and experiments as well. A typical model consists of a ruler that is mounted vertically on a wall, with a movable horizontal piece that rests on the head of the person who is being measured. This piece shows the height based on its position on the ruler.

Although the mechanical, wall-mounted stadiometer has continued to be popular, there are different versions of this equipment. Some models use an electronic sensor to gauge height, which is then displayed on a digital reader. There also are lightweight, portable stadiometers that can be used against a wall or on a stand.

Some wall-mounted stadiometers have hinges so that they can be moved flat against the wall when they are not being used. There also is a retractable model that works similar to a measuring tape. After the tape has been extended to the full height of the patient, it can be locked, and the results appear in a window on the tape dispenser.

A typical stadiometer will measure in both centimeters and inches, but the number of increments between these can vary among different models. Most models also have a way to lock the headpiece so that an accurate measurement can be recorded. They tend to be made of materials such as aluminum or sturdy plastic.

The price and construction of a stadiometer can vary widely. A typical doctor’s office usually will purchase a simple model and might find that a mechanical device is sufficient. Labs and other research facilities tend to use deluxe, digital models that ensure greater precision.

Infants are measured lying down, so doctors use a different type of equipment to determine their height. The device that is most similar to the stadiometer is the infant rod, which essentially is a smaller version of the same equipment and is used horizontally. Another device is a rubber ruler that is large enough to hold the infant’s entire body. It has a metal headrest that extends vertically from the rubber mat and a movable footrest that is placed against the feet of the fully extended child to determine a manual reading. Another device is this infantometer, which is sort of a plastic trough with a movable foot piece that shows height through a window on the side of the device that rests over a ruler.

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Have you heard of the Heightronic 235A? It's the world's first digital stadiometer.

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    • An infant is measured with a stadiometer while lying down.
      An infant is measured with a stadiometer while lying down.