The nation’s children have returned to their classrooms for yet another school year. What they carry to and from school has been an issue of recent debate in the medical community. Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics, Stuart Braun, MD, notes that certain backpacks may be harming kids. He explains what parents should be on the lookout for:
Carrying the weight of the world
Today, children’s backpacks are “huge,” Dr. Braun notes. “Kids are hauling two- or three-inch textbooks in them; they’re carrying large binders that build through the year.” Often, this is due to kids not being able to access their lockers with enough time to spare between class periods.
Signs and symptoms to pay attention to
If your child complains of back pain, it could be because of their back pack. Dr. Braun says the back pain could be caused by problems with fitness or obesity, but it’s also possible that an improperly fitted or worn-out backpack is the culprit.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that improper use of backpacks can cause “severe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.”
Dr. Braun stresses that most children have no issues with either back pain or backpacks, but encourages parents to be on the lookout if a child complains of back pain. “Sometimes back pain is concerning in children,” he says. “It’s not something we should ignore, and parents may want to have their child looked at.” In the case of severe back pain, consult your child’s pediatrician to rule out other possible conditions.
How a parent can help
According to the AAP, your child’s backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. Ensure your child’s comfort and safety by taking the following measures:
- Make sure your child is utilizing his or her locker, when possible.
- Choose the right backpack; wide, padded shoulder straps, waste straps and a padded back provide added support.
- Make sure to adjust the backpack straps for comfort and support.
- Ensure that your child wears both straps on his or her shoulders at all times and avoid backpacks that sling over one shoulder.
- Consider choosing a backpack with wheels so it can be rolled.
- Replace worn-out backpacks as needed.
To connect with Dr. Braun for any orthopaedic concerns about a child, call 617-636-7920 or request an appointment online.