Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Keep kids from heaving hefty backpacks

NEW YORK - With a new school year underway, the American Physical Therapy Association
(APTA) is reminding parents that wearing backpacks improperly or ones
that are too heavy put children at increased risk for back injuries and
muscle strain.

recent study of backpack-carrying pre-K through 9th graders showed that
unhealthy changes in posture are magnified if the backpack weighs more
than 10 to 15 percent of the student’s body weight. The APTA recommends that backpack loads be kept to this limit.

Physical therapist and APTA member Dr. Mary Ann Wilmarth warns in an APTA-issued statement that injury
can occur when a child bearing an overloaded backpack resorts to
arching the back, bending forward, twisting, or leaning to one side.

The APTA offers these tips for safe backpack use:

both straps. Slinging the backpack over only one shoulder using a
single strap causes one side of the body to bear the brunt of the
weight. By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is
better distributed, which promotes better posture.

the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles. The backpack should
rest evenly in the middle of the back near the child’s center of
gravity. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put
on and take off the backpack with ease. Tighten the straps so that the
backpack does not extend below the lower back.

addition to lightening the load, the APTA suggests organizing the
contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the

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