School Backpack Injuries or Homework – Which is Worse for Students, Parents?

August 24, 2005

As students savor the last precious days of summer vacation, parents are out making the final run for school supplies. So, parents, take note – when back to school shopping this year there is one essential item that reportedly requires very special attention: your child’s backpack.

Backpack weight is an established problem, and studies show that heavy backpacks can lead to both back pain and poor posture, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

“It is important for parents and guardians to not underestimate the
gravity of the situation; overweight backpacks can result in numerous short-term and chronic health concerns,” said Dr. David Thorpe, president of the ACA’s Council on Occupational Health. “Help your child pack their backpack each day and make sure they never carry more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a backpack heavier than 10 pounds.”

Although the long-term effects of poor backpack use are not known, health care professionals say excessive weight and certain bag styles can cause nerve pressure around the neck that could lead to muscle spasms, neck or shoulder pain.

In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been nearly a 300 percent increase in backpack-related injuries among schoolchildren over the last ten years.

Parents should ask their kids to report any pain or other problem
resulting from carrying a backpack. If the pain is severe or persistent, seek care from a health care professional, such as a doctor of chiropractic.

Also, parents should reportedly consider a discussion with their child’s teacher to encourage the school to utilize books on CD-ROM or the use of Web sites where assignments can be posted electronically.

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