Keep backpack safety in mind when preparing for the next school year
BATON ROUGE - With another school year right around the corner, Ochsner is sharing tips to help parents protect their children from being overwhelmed before classes even start.
With kids soon loading up their bags full of supplies to start the semester, experts say it's vital to make sure they have the right backpack to carry all of it.
“School children and teens should not carry too much weight in their backpack or wear it the wrong way. Either of these missteps can cause a lot of problems for kids, such as backaches, neck and shoulder pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands,” said Ochsner pediatrician Dionna Mathews, M.D. “A child’s posture can be damaged both in the short and long term.”
A good rule of thumb is to never load a backpack more than 15 percent of the student's total body weight.
Key things to look for when buying a backpack include...
-A lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load and is appropriate for your child’s size.
-The height of the backpack should extend from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist.
-Select a pack with well-padded and wide shoulder straps and one that has a padded back to protect your child from being poked from objects carried inside the pack.
-It contains multiple compartments that help distribute the weight more evenly.
Other things to keep in mind when using a backpack:
-Load heaviest items closest to the student's back (back of pack near shoulder straps) and arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around by using all compartments.
-Distribute weight evenly by wearing both straps. Wearing a pack over one shoulder may seem like a cooler trend, but it can cause a student to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
-Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly on the back.
-The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back.
-Encourage your child to pick up their backpack the right way to avoid back injuries; bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting the pack to the shoulders.
-Determining backpack weight is important and students should learn when the backpack exceeds the 15% rule so they can remove items.