August 29, 2011
Tips to steer clear of injuries from backpacks
It’s that time of the year! Students are officially returning back to the classroom and hitting the books as the new school year kicks off. Along with a student’s busy schedule, a backpack filled with books, binders, lunches, laptops, iPods and gym clothes can easily pack on the pounds and lead to improper fit, causing back strain and pain to a child’s back.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, nearly 28,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and emergency rooms for backpack-related injuries including strains, sprains, dislocations and fractures.
To avoid pain and discomfort caused from heavy backpacks, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following safety tips:
• Always use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed.
• Tighten the straps and use waist strap if the bag has one.
• Remove or organize items if too heavy and place biggest items closest to the back.
• Lift properly and bend at the knees to pick up a backpack.
• Carry only those items that are required for the day.
• Encourage you child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack, like numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
• Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of your child and look for any changes in your child’s posture when they wear the backpack.
• Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if your child or teenager expresses discomfort.
• Talk to the school about lightening the load. Keep the load at 10-15 percent or less
of the child’s bodyweight.
For more information about backpack safety, please visit AAOS at: http://www6.aaos.org/news/pemr/releases/release.cfm?releasenum=1014
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