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Backpack Safety is Back-to-School Issue

Concern over children and their backpacks keeps growing. A post appearing inside the September 8, 2003 publication of the Times Herald features this issue by noting "Trudging their way across the school campus or to the bus stop, hunched-over kids could possibly be dealing themselves an eternity of back pain, experts warn."

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 6,512 emergency room visits annually are derived from injuries associated with book bags. CPSC also cites the statistic that backpack-related injuries are up 256 percent since 1996. The problem is becoming so widespread, that the California State Assembly passed legislation that forces school districts to produce methods for lowering the weight of students' backpacks. Other states may also be considering similar legislation.

Inside an online survey conducted this past year in excess of 200 chiropractors responding from across North America at www.backpacksafe.com, it was learned that:

* 89 % of chiropractors surveyed responded they've seen patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain due to heavy backpacks.
* 71 % of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded that they're currently seeing 1-4 patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain brought on by heavy backpacks.
* 20 % of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded they are currently seeing five to nine patients (ages 5-18) reporting back, neck or shoulder pain attributable to heavy backpacks.
* 9 % of chiropractors presently seeing such patients responded that they are currently seeing 10 or more patients (ages 5-18) due to back, neck or shoulder caused by heavy backpacks.

The American Chiropractic Association has offered the following suggestions to assist in the prevention of backpack problems in school children. Those tips include:

* Ensure your kid's backpack weighs not more than 5-10 % of their body weight.
* The backpack should not hang over four inches below the waistline.
* Urge your kids to put on both shoulder straps, and wide, padded straps are very important.
* The shoulder straps ought to be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body.

The over-packing of backpacks was featured in a recent study conducted in Italy. In this study it was found that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound man, or a 29-pound load for a 132-pound woman.

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