SCHOOL SMARTS: Proper backpack safety can help students avoid in - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SCHOOL SMARTS: Proper backpack safety can help students avoid injury

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  A Louisville doctor says many students put themselves in danger because they are not wearing backpacks properly.

Danielle Cardinale's job is to help people recover from injury.  We turned to the physical therapist at Baptist Health for some backpack safety advice.

"If students are in pain now, it's going to affect how they preform in school. It will also affect how they are able to enjoy life in their play and participate in sports," said Cardinale.

She says the most import thing students should do, is make sure a backpack fits properly. Forget style and the one arm carry technique.

"Students need to wear both shoulder straps.  Students also need to make sure the backpack is not too far down on their back. Don't let the backpack hang too low.  When a backpack is carried below the hips, it's pulling the student to one side and that's the first thing we are going to want to fix," said Cardinale.

The American Occupational Therapy Association says a student's backpack should *not weigh more than 10% of their body weight.

For a 50 pound student, that's about one big book or 5 pounds.
A 100 pound student can carry two big books or 10 pounds.
A 150 pound student can carry three books or 15 pounds.

 "The weight of that backpack can have impacts on muscular ability, strength and it can cause strains.  It can also affect the bones themselves," said Cardinale.

"I would challenge parents at home to take their child's backpack and weigh it. They would probably be surprised at how much that those kids are hauling around, said Cardinale.


Risks Associated with Wearing a backpack incorrectly:

        - Low back pain
        - Upper and mid-back pain
        - Shoulder pain
        - Nerve compression and neural symptoms (i.e. numbness, tingling, shooting pains)
 
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends child's backpack weight no more than 10-20% of child's weight.
American Occupational Therapy Association - recommends sticking to 10% of body weight or less.
For 60 lb child: backpack should weigh about 6 lb and definitely no more than 12 lb.

Body Weight         Ideal       Absolute Max
      50                     100                    150                    **consider child's health and physical status; strength and trunk control required to carry a heavy load
 

Choosing a Safe Backpack - Recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
o Light-weight pack
o Two wide, padded shoulder straps
o Padded back
o Waist belt
o Multiple compartments
 
Caution with Rolling Backpacks:
o Difficult to carry on stairs and through snow
o Some schools do not allow them because of the bulky nature and hazards of tripping
 

Tips for use and decrease risk of injury/back pain:
o Lighten the load
o Use all of backpack's compartments  
    put heavy items close to center of the back
o Use both shoulder straps
o Tighten straps so the backpack fits closely to the body
o Pack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and not sag to the hips
o Should not have to lean forward to carry backpack

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