With a new school year beginning soon, two orthopedic groups have released tips to help kids avoid backpack-related injuries.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America warn that wearing a backpack that is too heavy or improperly positioned could result in sprains, strains or posture problems. More than 9,500 such injuries occurred among children 5-18 years old in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
To avoid injuries, the groups advise students to:
- Carry no more than 15-20 percent of their body weight.
- Use both shoulder straps and adjust them to keep the load close to the back.
- Remove items if the backpack is too heavy and pack the heaviest things low and in the center.
- If possible, leave books at home or school instead of carrying them back and forth.
Parents also can help by purchasing the right-size backpack for their child, and asking if their child has
any numbness or tingling in the arms, which could indicate the backpack is too heavy or fits poorly.
Choosing the Right Backpack
When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:
- Wide, padded shoulder straps
- Two shoulder straps
- Padded back
- Waist strap
- Lightweight backpack
- Rolling backpack
The correct use of both of the wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack.