Doctor reminds parents about backpack safety

August 10, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

A backpack should never be more than 10 to 15 percent of a student's weight.

As students gear up for the new school year, parents will start shopping for new supplies, including backpacks. Considering how heavy textbooks are today, it is important for both parents and children to remember how to use backpacks correctly in order to avoid orthopaedics problems that affect the spine.

Backpack-related injuries in students aged 5 to 18 years jumped nearly 7 percent between 2010 and 2011, as reported by CNN. Generally, a backpack should not be more than 10 to 15 percent of an individual's weight.

"The dilemma is, even though we recommend that backpacks should weigh less than 15 percent of the kids' total body weight, sometimes that's not practical, because they may have a lot of homework or need to study for a test," sports medicine specialist David Marshall told the news source.

To compensate, parents may want to consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home, or finding a way to make the material available online, Marshall said.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also offered tips on what to look for in a backpack. The medical group recommends products with two wide and padded straps, padded back and waist straps. Alternatively, students may use rolling backpacks.

Proper use of a backpack entails utilizing both tightened shoulder straps at all times, building muscle strength and organizing items in a way that puts the heaviest items closest to the child's back.

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