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Backpack Safety is a Back-to-School Issue

Concern over children and their backpacks continues to grow.  An article appearing in the September 8, 2003, issue of  The Times Herald features this problem by noting, "Trudging their way around the school campus or to the bus stop, hunched-over kids could be dealing themselves a lifetime of back pain, experts warn." 

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 6,512 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags. CPSC also cites the statistic that backpack-related injuries are up 256 percent since 1996.  The issue has become so widespread, that the California State Assembly passed legislation that forces school districts to develop ways of reducing the weight of students` backpacks. Other states are also considering similar legislation.

In an online survey conducted last year of more than 200 chiropractors responding from across North America at www.backpacksafe.com, it was learned that:

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  • 89 percent of chiropractors surveyed responded that they have seen patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain caused by heavy backpacks.

  • 71 percent of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded that they are currently seeing one to four patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain caused by heavy backpacks.

  • 20 percent of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded that they are currently seeing five to nine patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain caused by heavy backpacks.

  • 9 percent of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded that they are currently seeing 10 or more patients (ages 5-18) due to back, neck or shoulder caused by heavy backpacks.

The American Chiropractic Association has offered the following tips to help prevent backpack problems in school children. Those tips include:

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight.

  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.

  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps, and wide, padded straps are very important.

  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body.

The over-packing of backpacks was featured in a recent study conducted in Italy.  In this study it was found that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound man, or a 29-pound load for a 132-pound woman.

If your back pack does not weigh less than 10% of your body weight,
please be checked by a Chiropractor. What seems to be a small problem in school
will develop into a much larger problem later in life if nothing is done about it now.