Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Lessen weight in child's backpack to avoid injuries

With school back in session and the homework load getting heavier, the chance for a backpack-related injury is high. Approximately 40 million children head to school each day with backpacks, and about half of them sustain injuries as a result, according to the North American Spine Association.

In recognition of National Backpack Awareness Day on Wednesday, The William W. Backus Hospital’s Rehabilitation Services Department offers these important backpack tips to keep children safe:

Never let a child carry more than 15 percent of his/her body weight. Use a scale to weigh the backpack if you need to.

The heaviest items should be loaded closest to the child’s back. Compartmentalize belongings so all the weight is not in one place. Arrange books/material so they will not slide around.

Check your child’s backpack daily and only include items that are needed for the day’s activities.

If the backpack is too heavy, consider having your child carry a book or item in his/her arms to lessen the load.

Always have your child wear both shoulder straps because if just one is worn it can lead to discomfort and injury.

To avoid tingling in the neck, select a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps.

Shoulder straps should be adjusted so that the backpack rests in the middle of the child’s back and does not hang lower than four inches below his/her waist.

Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one, to help distribute the weight more evenly.

There are many kinds of backpacks that come in different shapes and sizes. Just remember to choose one with multiple compartments, padded, contoured shoulder straps and waist and chest straps. Always try the backpack on before you buy it.

Kristin Hilliard is a physical therapist in the Backus Hospital Rehabilitation Services Department. This advice should not replace advice from your physician. E-mail Hilliard and all the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org or comment on their blog at healthydocs.blogspot.com.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?