While backpacks can make your child’s life easier in the short-term, they can give rise to long-term health consequences in the form of back injuries if overloaded or worn improperly. Compared to brief cases or bags designed to be carried, backpacks are preferable, as they distribute weight more evenly across the body, allowing it to be supported by the back and abdominal muscles. Before you send your child back to school with a backpack, review the following injury prevention recommendations by experts at the Cedars-Sinai Institute for Spinal Disorders and Orthopedic Center, as reported in Medical News Today:
- Keep backpack use limited to necessities only. See that your child cleans out his or her backpack daily by removing any items that can be left at home or in a locker.
- Distribute weight evenly. Encourage your child to wear both straps of the backpack whenever he or she carries it. This will help distribute the weight of the backpack evenly across the back and promote good posture.
- Recognize signs that the backpack is too heavy. Pay attention to whether your child is slouched or leaning to one side when wearing a backpack or is experiencing any type of back pain, tingling or numbness in the shoulders or arms.
- Select the proper backpack. Enhance comfort and safety by purchasing a backpack with multiple compartments, so that weight is more evenly distributed. Padded straps can also help prevent straps from cutting into shoulders. Newer backpacks with wheels are also an option, provided that the handle extends long enough to allow children to stand upright while pulling it. The backpack and wheels must also be sturdy enough so that it does not topple over.
- Pick up the backpack properly. Teach your child how to pick up his or her backpack by demonstrating how to bend at the knees and grasp the pack with both hands before putting it on.
Previously on the D.C. Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- School bus safety tips for kids and drivers
- Summer bicycle safety tips
- Preventing high school football head injuries
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