According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 21,000 children are treated for backpack related injuries at emergency rooms, doctors offices, and clinics each year. Injuries range from contusions, to sprains and strains to the back and shoulder, and fractures. Many children experience back and neck pain.
"Back pain in children is not so uncommon anymore," according to John Purvis, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon. “Back pain that persistently limits a child's activities, requires medication or alters sleep patterns warrants investigation."
What are some things you can do to make this school year pain and injury free?
Start by lightening up! Pick a light weight back pack, and discourage children from carrying around unnecessary items. Encourage frequent stops at lockers and desks to minimize the number of books that are carried around, and have your children try to finish some of the heavier homework at school so they don't need to lug it home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of the child's body weight. A good tip is to fill the backpack to an appropriate weight on your bathroom scale, and then get a feel for what a safe load should be.
Pick a backpack with thick, padded shoulder straps and be sure to use them over both shoulders. Go for a backpack that has waist and chest straps that will help keep the weight close to the body and above the waist line. Another good piece of advice is to purchase your backpack from a sporting goods store where you are more likely to find a wider variety of styles and fits, as well as knowledgeable staff who can help you achieve a proper fit.
Some of most common symptoms of backpack issues are:
How do you know if your child is at risk for a backpack related injury? Here are some signs that your child may be at risk:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Massage Therapy Association Research Roundup
National Safety Council
Huffington Post Infographic -- The Dangers Of Heavy Backpacks -- And How Kids Can Wear Them Safely http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/what-heavy-backpacks-are-doing-to-kids-bodies-_n_5700485.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000030&ir=Healthy+Living