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Coping with the backpack burden

September 3, 2012 1:27:59 PM PDT
Students carrying heavy backpacks continue to be a problem, injuring more kids than ever before.

The ideal solution would be eliminating the textbooks. Last January, the Obama administration said they want every student to be using electronic textbooks by the year 2017.

Until then, the problem with heavy backpacks continues, so here are some solutions.

Often everything a child needs at school can be found in one place on their back. From books and notebooks to pencils and other school supplies, it all gets toted around in a backpack. But all that stuff can really add up in weight, and every year doctors see the consequences and the problem is getting worse.

"We're starting to see more and more back pain complaints in the doctors and the sports medicine offices," Dr. David Marshall, sports medicine specialist, said.

Heavy backpacks are also linked to neck and shoulder pain, strained muscles and nerve damage.

Dr. Marshall demonstrated the wrong way to wear a backpack on his own daughter.

"The way she has it adjusted out it's way to low the weight of the backpack should never be lower than the waist line so the straps should be adjusted so that the backpack fits high up on her shoulders. The shoulder straps need to be two of them instead of just one and also they need to be wide and padded," Marshall said.

Try to convince your child to use that abdominal strap.

"That will also help redistribute the load evenly across child's back without having the effect of 10 pounds pulling back on their shoulders then," he said.

If your child agrees, you may want to purchase a rolling backpack instead. But if it's on the back, the bag should not weigh more than ten to fifteen percent of your child's body weight to protect their spine and keep them from falling.

That's the recommendation, but it's not easy to do. For example, if your child weighs about 80 pounds, the backpack should not way more than 8 to 12 pounds.

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