Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Backpacks Can Be Dangerous!

If there ever was a picture of how not to send your child to school, this would be it! Although there is little research and literature does not agree on specific guidelines for backpack safety to reduce risk of pain or injury, parents and teachers can use common sense. Look for a backpack made of lightweight material, with two padded and wide straps, and a hip strap or waist belt to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders to the pelvis.
There is also a way to properly load and wear a backpack, according to Spine-Health.com. Both straps should always be used to ease the weight. Always pack the heaviest objects into the backpack first so that they are carried low and close to the body. The straps should be properly adjusted to best fit the child. To do so, hold the bottom of the backpack two inches above the waist and keep the top just below the base of the skull. It is imperative that the backpack not be worn low near the buttocks. Also, do not lean forward when walking—if this is a must, you know that there is too much weight in the backpack.
Teachers and parents should always pay close attention to the weight being carried in backpacks. If the child complains that his backpack is too heavy, immediately rearrange or remove objects to reduce the weight and ease the risk of back pain. A good rule for the weight of the backpack is to limit it to around 15% of the child’s body weight. And remember, a child’s objection is always the best indicator that his backpack is too heavy. Do not ignore his complaints. Clean out the backpack once a week, and work to make a careful assessment of the backpack’s contents to be sure that only what is needed is being carried.

Guest Blogger Sarah Wiemero

Triano D.C., J. J. (2000). Tips to prevent back pain from kids’ backpacks. Retrieved Feb. 21, 2006, from Spine-Heath.com

Web site: http://www.spine-health.com/topics/cd/pack/bp02.html.

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