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With a new school year just around the corner, parents are busy stocking up on school supplies. With backpacks topping most students’ checklists, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital offers some tips to keep in mind when purchasing and using backpacks. According to Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Mark Locke, pediatric orthopedic surgeon with the Moore Clinic, “Back pain is not an uncommon complaint for children and adolescents. It seems that every year the books get thicker and thicker and book bags heavier and heavier. Many parents have concerns heavy book bags are contributing to their child’s back pain. Some parents also have the concern that book bags contribute to spinal deformities such as scoliosis.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that nearly 5,000 emergency room visits each year are due to injuries related to book bags. Many students have no lockers, or limited access to lockers between classes because of security or disciplinary issues.
“Twenty years ago, it was rare for a child to complain of back pain. Now, this type of pain is seen daily,” says Locke. “Book bag related pain seems to be most prevalent in middle school-aged children, who sometimes carry loads of up to 25 percent of their body weight.”
Locke says heavy book bags and those carried on one shoulder can contribute to postural problems. Rolling book bags are an option, but not a solution. Although it is better to pull than to carry heavy books, rolling bag weight can lead to its own set of problems, such as arm and leg pain.
Book bag and backpack injuries are avoidable. Here are a few backpack safety tips to keep in mind before sending your child off to school:
•Use both shoulder straps
•Lap belts or roller bags may be helpful
•Pack heavy items close to back
•Keep the weight of the bag less than 15 percent of body weight
“In the future children will likely carry CDs rather than books and hopefully this issue will be a problem of the past,” says Locke.
To learn more about keeping your child safe, visit CH.PalmettoHealth.org.