Doylestown Chiropractor Announces National School Backpack Awareness Day

Kid's Overloaded Backpacks May Cause Back Pain

Doylestown, PA, August 21, 2011 --( As the new school year starts, and parents and children are planning their "back-to-school" lists, Dr. Jeff McQuaite of Azzatori Chiropractic-Doylestown is urging them to keep backpack safety in mind and to work as a team with Central Bucks Schools to “lighten the load.”

According to Lisa A. Haney, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Pennsylvania Hospital, "More than 40 million U.S. students carry backpacks, and most of them are unaware that overloading them or carrying them incorrectly can set them up for a lifetime of problems," says Ms. Haney. "It's up to parents, teachers and schools to help spread the word about backpack safety and help our kids lighten their loads." About 20 million carry in those packs more than the recommended weigh. This backpack “overload” sent over 8,000 children last year to hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to backpack. A 2004 study from the University of California showed that 64% of students between ages 11-15 reported back pain from their backpacks, with 21% reporting the pain lasted more than 6 months.

These numbers were expected to rise (and they have) as schools around the country, for security reasons, remove or restrict access to lockers, forcing students to rely more heavily on backpacks to carry books and personal belongings.

Dr. McQuaite notes “Each year, I grow more concerned as I see more and more children with problems associated with backpacks. Complaints include back pain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and numbness into the arms and hands. Studies show a direct connection to these problems being associated to overloaded and ill-fitted backpacks. The body is trying to compensate for the change caused by the backpack’s added weight. The spine in particular can be affected as it bends and twists to reposition this added backpack weight. When this happens pain usually results.”

Other problems associated with backpack overload are conditions called “Cervicobrachial syndrome and or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.” A heavily loaded backpack causes the shoulder straps to compress delicate nerves, arteries and veins passing underneath. This can lead to numbness and tingling in the arms.

Dr. Jeff says “A lot of these problems can be addressed by using proper body mechanics. While they may not be 'cool', it will help prevent the possibility of long term damage.”

In an effort to cut down on the number of these injuries, Dr. McQuaite offers parents the following backpack safety advice:

1. Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds.

2. Load heaviest items closest to the child's back and arrange books and materials to prevent them from sliding.

3. Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing only one strap can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.

4. Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Too much pressure on shoulders and necks can cause pain and tingling.

5. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child's back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the child's waistline.

6. Use the waist belt, if the backpack has one, to help distribute the pack's weight more evenly.

7. Check what your child carries to school and brings home to make sure the items are necessary to the day's activities.

8. If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child's school allows it.

9. Choose the right size pack for your child's back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

10. If a student is experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your physician or chiropractor.

Dr. McQuaite also points out that parents shouldn't put a child's name on the outside of a backpack, for safety reasons: When the child is walking home from school, you don't want a predator to be able to call him or her by name.

He also recommends that parents put their child’s contact information somewhere in the bag, just in case anything happens to them.

Dr. Jeff McQuaite, the local doctor for Backpack Safety America is pleased to announce that September 21 has been declared National School Backpack Awareness Day.

Azzatori Chiropractic-Doylestown
Dr. Jeff McQuaite
295 Logan Street
Doylestown, PA 18901

Azzatori Chiropractic
Dr. Jeff McQuaite