Backpack Safety - A Parent's Guide to Selecting the Right Backpack for Your Child

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Dr. Scott R. Seidel, neck and back pain specialist with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, discusses how to select the right backpack for your child. Safety and injury prevention should be top of mind when selecting a backpack as well as observing how it is used and worn.

Text of Backpack Safety - A Parent's Guide to Selecting the Right Backpack for Your Child

  • 1. A Parents Guide To: Choosing the Right Backpack for Your Child By: Scott R. Seidel, DC

2. BACKPACK SAFETY When you think back to school, you probably think of new clothes, school supplies, and sports physicals. However, there is typically little thought given to backpack safety and this is an important subject that should not be ignored. Read on for some simple tips to limit your childs risk for injury while still allowing them to enjoy the backpack of their choice. 3. Potential injuries from heavy backpacks include: Spinal stress fracture Strain of the neck/back Pinching or damage of nerves in the neck/back Cartilage damage Scoliosis Poor Posture These can become chronic over time. What Could Happen? 4. A child should ideally carry no more than 5-10% of their body weight. Be conscious of the contents! (Heavier items like books, shoes, and electronics can add up quickly.) Source: KidsHealth How Much is Too Much? 5. How Heavy is the Backpack? IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS: 1 2 3 4 How Long is the Backpack Worn?* How Often is the Backpack Taken On and Off?* How is the Backpack Worn?** *The longer and more often the backpack is worn, the heavier the total load on the spine. **Improper wear can lead to spinal stress and injury. 6. A backpack that is too heavy causes the child to have to severely arch backwards or bend forward to prevent falling over while carrying a load that is too heavy for them. The resulting compression of the spinal bones and discs can lead to injury. 7. 61.4% of children were carrying a backpack that exceeded 10% of their body weight and 20% of those children had backpacks that exceeded 15% of their body weight! Those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% greater risk of back pain. Source: Archives of Disease in Childhood A Recent Study Found: 8. Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back to help reduce the compression from the straps and pad the back. TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SPINE: 1 9. TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SPINE: 2 Always use BOTH straps. Never carry on one shoulder. This will lead to a dropped shoulder and place a bend into childs back. 10. TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SPINE: 3 Adjust the straps so the bottom of the bag rests in the small of the back. If it is set too low, the child has to bend excessively to balance their center of gravity. 11. TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SPINE: 4 If the pack is too big, kids will fill it up, meaning that small children can end up with much too heavy a load. Choose a backpack sized reasonably based on your childs size. 12. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may have. Scott R. Seidel, DC Chiropractor with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group