Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Backpack Safety

It’s the time of year again for kids to return back to school. Each and every year seems to bring the challenge of buying new clothes, supplies, and a back pack. This year we want to include some important statistics, as well as important information regarding backpacks.

A little know fact that a child carrying more than 10 percent of his or her body weight risks back and neck pain, while a child carrying more than 15 percent or more of his or her body weight can suffer from severe back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches and other spinal discomfort. When thinking of such small percentages, it’s astounding to realize that an elementary school child weighing 90lbs shouldn’t have more than a 9-13 pound backpack at the most. To put that in perspective a sample 4th grade reading book weighs around 4lbs would be equal to between a half and a third of the amount of weight that should be placed in a backpack. As parents it’s hard to realize how heavy the books are until they are all placed together in a lightweight back to support on your child’s spine.

How do we fix the problem? Periodically weighing a child’s backpack would be a great start. It may be easy for a parent to find ways to eliminate unneeded items in a backpack that would help lighten the load. It is also beneficial for the child to be shown the proper way to fill a backpack. The heavier or bulkier items should be up against the back part of the backpack that allows them to rest on the child’s back. It’s also important for the child to know that backpacks have 2 straps, and to ensure that they are worn with both straps. When wearing them with only one strap, it can add to increased weight on only one side of the child’s body.

With this continued issue of backpack safety it’s also important to ensure that your child has the right type of back pack. You want to ensure that the backpack isn’t too short to put pressure on the child’s mid-back, but not too long so it hangs down below their supportive area of the lower back. Some of the newer advances in backpack safety have been very beneficial. One of the more prominent new backpacks contain and air bladder that can be adjusted to correspond with backpack weight. These air bladders help support your child’s back as well as take weight off of the child’s back using the air bladder system.

So if you have a child that has pain from a backpack that is too heavy, or you as an adult feel like you are packing around a backpack due to pain, feel free to give our office a call for a new patient appointment.

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