Posts Tagged ‘children heavy backpacks’

How to Avoid Backpack Injuries

Backpack AwarenessNobody ever said that being a parent is an easy job. You have to keep an eye on everything. Are they eating enough vegetables? Getting enough exercise? Spending too much time on their computer? With all the things you need to monitor in a day to keep your kids healthy and safe, it would be easy to overlook this one: Are their backpacks too heavy?

But the truth is, it’s something we should be thinking about each morning as we send them off to school, since backpack injuries are common in school-aged children. In fact, one in four students admit to having back pain for 15 days or more during the school year.

Dangers of an Overloaded Backpack

Heavy backpacks and book bags can lead to back, neck or shoulder pain and injury as well as long-term muscle, skeletal and nerve damage, including:

• Muscle spasms
• Scoliosis
• Spine injury
• Strain leading to headaches

ScienceDaily likens it to firefighters and soldiers carrying heavy occupational gear and notes this everyday reality for school children as a serious concern with serious potential risks. Backpack injuries have become such a widespread problem that some states have even passed legislation to “lighten the load.” With the average textbook weighing 3 ½ pounds, most schools are trying to find ways to address it, like switching to electronic text books and encouraging kids to leave unneeded items at school. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has even headed up National School Backpack Awareness Day to teach safety tips to avoid injury.

Backpack Safety Tips

Thousands of children are treated each year for backpack-related injuries. How can you make sure your child isn’t one of them? We’ve got some tips.

Keep an Eye on Weight

A loaded backpack should never weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. That means if your child weighs 100 pounds, their backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10 pounds. If your child is struggling to get the backpack on or off, has red marks on their shoulders from the straps, has to lean forward to carry the pack, or complains of back pain or tingling arms and fingers, it’s probably too heavy.

Choose the Right Size

A first-grader needs a smaller bag than a teenager, that’s why they come in age-appropriate sizes. You should look for the smallest backpack that can fit your child’s needs. The bigger the backpack, the more likely they are to keep stuffing things in. You might also consider a cross-body bag as an alternative.

Look for Added Comfort Features

Your best bet is to find a lightweight bag with wide, well-padded adjustable shoulder straps, a padded back and a waist strap. Multiple compartments can also help arrange items so they don’t shift around as much.

Pack the Bag Properly

Load the heaviest items first, so they rest closest to your child’s back. Arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around. Pack only what your child absolutely needs. If necessary, have your child carry a book or two by hand to avoid breaking the 10 percent weight rule.

Carry the Bag Correctly

To ensure weight is distributed evenly, backpacks should always be worn on both shoulders, with the waist belt buckled. Adjust the shoulder and waist straps so that the pack fits snugly. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and should never be more than four inches below the waistline (if it’s resting on their bottom, it’s too low).

Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center

Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center treats all types of shoulder, neck and back injuries. Schedule an appointment to see an Emory specialists today.

or call 404-778-3350

 

Take-aways from our Pediatric Orthopaedic Hip and Spine Chat with Dr. Fletcher

On February 5, 2013, Dr. Nicholas Fletcher, Emory Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon held a  live web chat to answer questions pertaining to the newest treatment options for pediatric orthopedic hip and spine conditions such as scoliosis, kyphosis, hip dysplasia, leg length differences and femoroacetabular impingement.

One of the most common pediatric orthopedic problems is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip socket does not form correctly, which can lead to hip dislocation as a child grows, stated Dr. Fletcher in the chat. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia cannot be diagnosed in a child before birth, a great question which was asked by one of the chat participants. While hip dysplasia is not particularly common, mild abnormalities of the hip socket are regularly seen at birth, but parents should not be alarmed, as these abnormalities typically get better within a couple of months of a child’s life. One of the pediatric hip dysplasia treatment options Dr. Fletcher mentioned in the chat is called the Ganz Osteotomy, a procedure available at Emory. The procedure is used to realign the hip and settings of hip dysplasia when it is found in teenagers and adults.

Participants were also interested to learn that Emory is one of only a few centers in the southeast that offer hip preservation surgeries. Hip preservation is a surgical approach to hip problems in teens and young adults designed to prevent the need for hip replacement down the road. It usually involves realigning an abnormal hip socket into a more normal position or removing bone spurs in the hip that could lead to early arthritis.

Dr. Fletcher provided some great insights and answered some hard pressing questions from chat participants. If you would like to know more about the causes and treatment options of Pediatric Orthopaedic Hip and Spine conditions be sure to take a look at the live web chat transcript. Also, for more information on Scoliosis and on how to become a patient visit Emory Orthopedic and Spine online today.

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Backpack Awareness: Tips to Help Kids Avoid Backpack Pain & Injuries This School Year

Backpack AwarenessIf you have a child who’s middle-school age or older, you’re very aware of their overloaded backpack. Or maybe you’re in school and suffering from overly weighty textbooks. Whoever carries the load in your family, it’s time for everyone to take the backpack seriously.

Heavy backpacks and book bags cause back, neck, and shoulder pain and injury. It’s a fact. That’s why the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA) instituted the third Wednesday in September – this year, it’s September 19th – as National School Backpack Awareness Day™.

Consider these facts from AOTA:

  • More than 79 million children in the U.S. carry school backpacks.
  • More than 2,000 backpack-related injuries were treated in ERs, clinics, and doctors’ offices in 2007 alone.
  • About 55% of students carry a backpack that is heavier than the recommended guideline of 10% of the wearer’s body weight.

That’s right. A loaded backpack should never weigh more than 10% of the wearer’s bodyweight (15% at absolute max). That means a 100-pound child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10 pounds. You’re thinking, “Try telling that to my kid’s teacher!” right? Well, there are some steps you can take to improve your child’s lot. Take a moment and share these back-saving tips:

  1. Choose the right bag. School backpacks are sized according to age group, so be sure to get one that’s not too big. Choose a light-weight bag with wide, well-padded shoulder straps, a padded back, and a waist strap. Avoid leather shoulder straps, as they add unnecessary weight. If you know your load is going to exceed the 10% rule on a regular basis, get a bag with wheels. Don’t risk injury.
  2. Pack your bag properly. Load the heaviest items first, so they’ll be closest to your back, and arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around. Pack only what’s necessary. Do you really need that laptop? If not, leave it out. If you have to, carry a book or two by hand to avoid breaking the 10% rule.
  3. Carry your bag correctly. Always wear your backpack on both shoulders and wear the waist belt, so that the weight is distributed evenly. You may think it looks cool to sling your pack over one shoulder, but you’re putting your back at risk for injury. Adjust the shoulder and waist straps so that the pack fits snugly. The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and should never be more than 4 inches below the waistline (if it’s hitting your bottom, it’s too low).

As the school year gets going, pay attention to your child’s load. If your child is struggling to get the backpack on or off, complains of back pain, or has to lean forward to carry the pack, it’s probably too heavy. And carrying an overloaded backpack shouldn’t have to be a childhood rite of passage.

Do you or your child carry a heavy backpack to class? How do you handle the load? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.