Framingham Online News

Backpack Safety for Children

September 10, 2004 (12:19 am EST)
Filed under: Health & Fitness by News Staff

Contributed by Dr. Kayed S. Khalil

FRAMINGHAM, MA - I do not remember carrying my books in a backpack growing up. I remember carrying all my books with a heavy-duty rubber band around them. Today it is the backpack era, placing all your books in a beautiful backpack. Yet this great idea has been misused by many school children all over the country.

While carrying a backpack to school may seem cute and harmless, they cause clinical problems for children. Young people are putting themselves in danger by carrying too much weight. I think it is essential for children and parents to learn more about backpack injury and how to prevent them. Backpacks can cause painful back and neck problems and injuries that can lead to long-term medical problems.

Many parents have expressed concerns about their children's backpacks. In my practice, (HealthLink Chiropractic, Framingham, MA), I'm beginning to see more and more suffering children.

In May 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported backpack related injuries sent almost 6000 students each year to emergency rooms. The American Academy of Orthopedics stated that backpack injury is a significant problem for children. These children are supposed to carry their backpacks full with all their books to school. Most students carry more than the 15 0f their body weight, which is the maximum weight recommended by The American Orthopedic Association.

According to a study conducted at Simmons University, most students carry a backpack to school each day that is overstuffed and too heavy. An Auburn University study reported that nearly 700f children they surveyed suffered muscle soreness, 50% experienced back pain, 25% numbness and another 15% shoulder pain from carrying their backpacks. There is growing evidence that backpacks may threaten to spinal development.

A study by the University of Michigan reports that up to 60% 0f children will experience back pain by the time they reach 18. National Public Radio reported that 65% 0f adolescents' visits to doctors are for backpacks related injuries.

Legislation was presented in May 2002 in California and New Jersey to require school boards to manage school backpack weight. This legislation should be extended to the rest of the country.

Some have suggested rolling backpacks. Rolling backpacks might seem like a good idea to help our children as long as they do it and do it right, but they do not. Many children carry these rolling backpacks in one hand when they are in a hurry or when they are going up and down stairs. Eventually they end up adding to the problem.

Is your child's backpack causing problems?

-> Do your children complain that their fingers tingle?

-> Do they ever say that their shoulders or back are bothering them?

-> Do they have neck discomfort?

-> Is your child's back and neck tired at the end of the day?

These are the signs of backpack injuries. Backpack injuries are real. Backpack injuries mimic repetitive stress injuries that adult experience on the job. There is only so much the human body can take before it starts to send out warning signals. Backpack injuries may include neck pain, upper back pain, mid and lower back pain, shoulder pain, arm to fingers numbness and tingling and headaches.

If you or a family member has experienced any of these symptoms you should be evaluated by a chiropractic Physician. Because this is a new phenomena in our society we do not know the long term effects of backpack induced injury. Similar effects from other repetitive stress injuries have been documented resulting in longer recovery and healing and in worse case scenarios chronic lifelong struggle with pain management.

Dr. Kayed S. Khalil is a Chiropractic Physician, he can be reached at HEALTHLINK CHIROPRACTIC, 639 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01702, Telephone: (508)628-3800

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