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Experts: Heavy backpacks damaging postures


September 20 is the American Occupational Therapy Association’s National Backpack Awareness Day.

Nation-wide physicians are trying to spread the knowledge on how overly-heavy backpacks can do permanent damage to a child.

“The concerns are mostly postural abnormalities,” Janet Crawford, a Physical Therapist at Minden Medical Center said. “Another one is nerve compression. If it’s so heavy it pushes down on your nerves it can lead to numbness, tingling and pain in the shoulder and back. It’s also not good to be compressing on growing bones.”

The American Physical Therapy Association says a child’s backpack load should weigh at least 10-15 percent less than a child’s body weight

“Let’s say you have a child that weighs 50 pounds,” Crawford said. “That’s 5-7.5 pounds. That’s not much. If you see your child in that forward flexing posture, that’s not good.”

Crawford said much of the battle can be won by parents doing their homework in selecting a proper backpack for their child.

“If you have a small child, you need a small backpack,” Crawford said. “You want it centered on the child’s back, make sure it has side straps that you can pull tight. That compresses the items closer into the back and keeps them from dangling; You want to make sure the straps are padded on the back and shoulder, as well.”

Another way to avoid unnecessary strain is by carrying only the items that are required at one time. Some students have two sets of books, so as not to have to carry the heavy books to and from school.

Crawford says parents and/or students should Reassess and repack each day, so that unnecessary items do not remain in the backpack.

For more information on backpack safety, visit the American Physical Therapy Association website at

Blake Branch

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