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Back to School and Backpack Safety

A number of news stories and reports have come out about the issue of backpack safety in school kids. One article from the Aug. 1, 2007 publication of the Okeechobee News notes that backpacks are available everywhere, but not many people inquire about the construction of these packs. The article suggests that parents ask the following questions. "How broad are the shoulder straps? Will it distribute weight evenly? Does the backpack have a waist belt to distribute weight to the hips?"

The article reports that according to the the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), there are more than 21,000 backpack-related incidents every year. The article says that increased weight is a serious problem. The result is that, "This rise in weight could be linked to an increase in children seeing chiropractors."

On July 12, 2007, the California publication, The Acorn, also published a story on backpack safety. In the story, they quote Dr. Gerard W. Clum of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress who says, "Backpacks weighing more than 15 pounds that are thrown over a shoulder create an disproportion in the rib cage." He continued by stating, "This kind of repeated strain may also initiate arm and hand numbness, headaches or backaches."

The July 20, 2007 Toledo Free Press also ran a story on backpacks where they offered tips from the American Chiropractic Association to "help avoid the unnecessary pain that backpack misuse might cause the students in your home." These tips included:
# Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight.
# The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
# A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively.
# Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
# Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps.
# The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack fits to your child's body.
# If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher.

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