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September 26, 2015
Back-to-School Backpack Safety

It’s hard to believe that summer has already flown by, and it’s time to get the kids back-to-school. For your child, a new school year means the return of waking up early, doing homework, and keeping up with after-school activities, but one thing you may not realize is it can also mean the return of back problems.

When was the last time you picked up your child’s backpack? You may have been surprised at how heavy it was. According to the American Chiropractic Association, a backpack should weigh no more than 10% of the child’s body weight. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, backpack-related injuries send an estimated 5,000 children a year to emergency rooms, and more than 14,000 children are treated annually for backpack-related injuries. This shows that students are carrying backpacks that are much too heavy for them.

Of course, the solution seems simple: lighten the backpack! But this may not always be an option. Between text books, notebooks, school lunches, and equipment needed for after-school activities, even just the bare necessities can quickly add up to a heavy load.

However, there are still some things you can control to help evenly distribute the weight and lessen your child’s chances of back injury.

Choosing the right backpack

The first step to helping your child avoid back problems is to find them the right backpack. Look for a backpack that has the following:

Packing the backpack

The way you pack a backpack can be just as important as what you are packing. Use these tips for the best weight distribution:

Wearing the backpack

The final step to avoid back injuries is making sure your child wears the backpack correctly. Although using only one strap may seem “cool” to your kids, it can cause problems down the line. Try to encourage them to follow the following guidelines:

While more permanent solutions like digital textbooks and laws regarding how much a backpack can weigh are becoming more widespread, there is still a long way to go before kids can truly lighten the load. In the meantime, we hope these tips will help your child avoid back injuries and have a successful school year!

Dr. Diana Rabkina is a pediatrician with Harrington Physician Services. She works with Dr. Cynthia Wilson-Grillo in our newly-renovated suite in the Medical Arts Building of our 100 South Street, Southbridge campus. For an appointment, call 508-765-7860.