West Physical Therapy’s guidelines for backpack safety

By on August 24, 2013

KANE COUNTY—With the start of the new school year, West Physical Therapy would like to remind parents of safety needs for their child when carrying a backpack to school.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 24,000 people were treated in U. S. hospitals and doctors’ offices for backpack-related injuries in 2012, and more than 9,500 of those patients were aged 5 to 18.

Backpacks are a popular and practical way carry school supplies and books. They are designed to distribute the weight of the load among the body’s strongest muscles. When they are too heavy or worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause problems. Improperly used, backpacks may injure muscles and joints, which can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as postural problems.

When choosing a backpack, look for one that is lightweight and an appropriate size for your student. Make sure it has 2-inch-wide, padded shoulder straps, and a waist strap. Another option would be to choose a rolling backpack.

To properly carry the backpack, tighten the straps to comfortably fit the student. Always pack lightly. Carry only the books and supplies that you will need. Ideally, the backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of the child’s body weight. Heavier items should be packed first, close to the body. If the child needs to lean forward to carry the pack, it is too heavy. Remember to lift the backpack properly. Never lift and swing the backpack while twisting at the same time.