Backpack safety: Too much weight, how they are worn can cause harm

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – As children get ready to head back to school, a brand new backpack is probably on their list of things to get.

But, are you aware of the injuries backpacks can cause?

Doctors are saying that parents should be aware of how much a child’s backpack weighs and how they wear it to school.

Every day, children strap on their backpacks filled with textbooks, folders, lunch and more — the weight quickly rises. About 5,400 children are treated each year for backpack injuries, many of them are sprains and strains to the shoulder or lower back.

These sprains and strains cause a risk for short- or long-term back pain. Research says if their backpack weighs too much it could “change” their spine and lead to even more injuries.

It’s not just backpacks though, anything too heavy can lead to back damage.

So, not only is the weight of a backpack key to preventing injuries, how your child wears it is also important.

Adam Pomfret, a physical therapist, says research shows there have been cases of changes in the curve of the neck, middle of back and lumbar spine after putting on a backpack unevenly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests adjusting the backpack so that the bottom sits at the waist. Wearing both straps and the waist strap can also help.

To pack your backpack properly, try to not have more than two textbooks inside at a time, if possible. Also, regularly clean it out.

Experts recommend parents to use the “10 to 15 percent” rule — a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. So, if your child weighs 50 pounds, their backpack should not weigh more than 5-7.5 pounds.