It’s that time of the year again! Students all around Lincoln are gearing up for the first day of school. You’ve probably gotten all of your child’s school supplies by now, but there is one essential item you might want to check for safety concerns.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 5,415 backpack-related injuries treated at emergency rooms in 2013 alone. Is your child receiving monstrous amounts of homework? Are the books he or she is carrying becoming heavier and heavier? Between studying, homework and commuting back and forth between extracurricular activities, kids these days have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Backpacks should weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of your child’s body weight in efforts to prevent injury.
The American Chiropractic Association recommends parents follow this backpack safety checklist.
IS THE BACKPACK THE CORRECT SIZE FOR YOUR CHILD?
The backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below his or her waistline. The lower it hangs, the more weight is placed on the shoulders. If your child appears to lean forward when walking, it’s likely the backpack is too low. It should also never be wider or longer than your child’s torso.
DOES THE BACKPACK HAVE TWO WIDE, PADDED SHOULDER STRAPS?
Non-padded, thin straps are uncomfortable and can dig into your child’s shoulders causing pain. Wide and padded straps give extra support and comfort. If your child complains of shoulder pain, it could likely be caused by the style of the backpack.
ARE THE SHOULDER STRAPS ADJUSTABLE?
Every child’s body is unique. Adjustable straps allow us to adjust the backpack to fit your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
DOES THE BACKPACK HAVE SEVERAL COMPONENTS?
Many backpacks have individualized compartments, such as laptop holders, to help position the contents effectively. It’s important to make sure pointy objects or bulky objects are away from the child’s back, so he or she doesn’t lean up against the items and cause injury.
DOES THE BACKPACK HAVE A PADDED BACK?
In the instance when a sharp or pointy object does make its way to the rear of the backpack, padded backs help protect this area from hurting your child. It also provides increased comfort.
DOES YOUR CHILD REALLY NEED TO BRING ALL THAT HOME?
It’s important to discuss with your child and your child’s teacher about what can be left at school or at the home in order to prevent carrying around unnecessary items. Ask to leave the heaviest books and electronic items such as laptop computers at school and bring home only lighter materials. If your child requires a computer, work with the teacher to see if the child can use a home computer or if there is a way to print out materials and bring them home separately.
While not every child will go to the hospital because of heavy backpacks, overweight loads can cause neck, back and shoulder pain and more. Use these tips to prevent this from happening and seek chiropractic care to prevent any further, more harmful injuries.