Is Your Child's Backpack Safe?

Published 08/26 2014 05:02PM

Updated 08/26 2014 05:53PM

ALTOONA - According to the National Safety Council, doctors treat more than 20,000 injuries every year, related to backpacks. As most local children head back to class this week, it's a good time to make sure they're not carrying more than they can safely handle.
For kids, the character on or color of the backpack may be top priority, but for parents, there's more to consider.

At Drayer Physical Therapy in Altoona, Zach Haulman says, "we see generalized back pain with young kids, not particularly typical for a kid to start having back pain, unless something else is going on,"

And he says that something else is often a backpack that's causing problems.

The physical therapist says how a backpack fits is a major factor. Look for one with two wide straps. They'll help distribute weight evenly and the width of the straps will keep  them from digging in and causing pain.

"You want to make sure the straps to the book bag have a nice cushion. They find that with decreased cushion it can push down on the arm, cause numbness and tingling," Zach adds.

The back of the backpack should be padded, too. And it's important to remember that a loaded backpack shouldn't weigh more than 10-20 percent of a child's weight. Zach says about 15 percent is the limit.

"You also want to make sure they're not carrying it low," he says. "They also say no more than 4 inches below the waistline, that adds a lot of stress to the low back."

And Zach says, although many kids think putting a backpack on one shoulder is cool, it doesn't distribute the weight evenly and can lead to pain, and tingling in the arm.


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