Sonoma County kids are heading back to school this month.  While for many parents, a return to school may feel like a relief from the constant activity of summer, there are still orthopaedic health issues to watch out for.  One such issue is back pain caused by improper use of one of the most mundane objects in your house – your child’s backpack.

According to an article* written by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that “more than 24,300 individuals were treated in hospitals and doctors’ offices for injuries related to backpacks in 2012, and more than 9,500 of those injuries were kids 5-18 years old.”

Recently AAOS and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) looked into the problem of backpack-related injuries and released the following recommendations for school-aged children.  The following safety tips are extracted from the same July 2013 article:

  • Kids should carry no more than 15-20 percent of their body weight.
  • Use both shoulder straps to keep the weight of the backpack better distributed and adjust the shoulder straps to keep the load close to the back.
  • Remove or organize items if too heavy and pack the heavier things low and towards the center.
  • When lifting backpacks, bend at the knees.
  • School backpacks are for schoolwork. Carry only those items that are required for the day; if possible, leave books at home or school.
  • At home and at school, keep walkways clear of backpacks to avoid tripping.

They also had the following recommendations for parents:

  • Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness or tingling in the arms or legs which may indicate poor fit or too much weight being carried.
  • If the backpack seems too heavy for the child, have them remove some of the books and carry them in their arms to ease load on the back.
  • Purchase a backpack appropriate for the size of your child.
  • Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle.
  • Encourage your child to stop at their locker throughout the day as time permits to drop off heavier books.

Following these common-sense guidelines may help kids avoid injuries such as strains, sprains and posture problems caused by the improper use of their backpack.  If you think your child may have suffered a back injury, or if he or she is experiencing problems with posture, please contact our office to make an appointment.

*Note, by clicking on this link you will leave our website and be taken to the AAOS website.