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The Latest Research on Backpack Safety

The Latest Research on Backpack Safety

It’s back-to-school time — time for new clothes, new pencils, new notebooks and new backpacks.  But, although backpacks are now ubiquitous in school-yards everywhere, the can also pose a serious health threat.

Research shows that “children who experience back pain are at a heightened risk of having back pain as adults.  The economic impact may be significant, because back pain is a major cause of disability in adults.”  (Clin Orthop Relat Res 2003;409:78-84.)

Picking the right pack could prevent a lot of pain down the road.  When purchasing a backpack for your child, take care that the size of the pack is in relation to the child’s frame.  Also, choose a pack with padded shoulder straps — blood circulation in the neck and shoulders is essential for spinal health.

How you pack and carry the backpack is also vital.  Here are some tips:

  • Carry the backpack low
  • Lighten the load
  • Limit backpack time
  • Use both shoulder straps
  • Practice packing

Backpacks aren’t just for students:  Adults use backpacks for carrying a variety of loads, from books to babies.  A brief report on child carries and backpacks concluded that injuries from child carriers and backpacks “appear to come from three general sources:  product appropriateness and design, product condition, and product use.”  (Injury Prevention 2000;6:56.)Dr. Barbara Smith
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