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Backpack Awareness

As the end of summer approaches and students across America prepare to start another year of school, parents and children are hitting the stores for those much needed school supplies. But before you throw that Frozen or Marvel backpack into your cart along with all of those highlighters, map pencils, tissues, and spirals your child needs for their first day of class, here are a few things to consider.

This year more than 79 million students in the U.S. will carry a backpack to school. Of those students, thousands will find themselves in hospital emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, or medical clinics rather than their classrooms due to backpack-related injuries. However, such injuries can easily be prevented through the proper fitting and packing of your student’s bag.

In regards to the proper fitting and selection of a backpack, the height of the bag should extend from your child’s waist (or just above their waist) up to approximately 2 inches below their shoulder blades. It is also recommended that students always wear the pack over both shoulders to allow for even distribution of weight over their body. Therefore, selecting a backpack with two shoulder straps is important. For added support, though, look for a backpack with a hip belt along with a strap that goes across your child’s sternum. Ultimately, your child’s backpack should rest snuggly and comfortably against the back.

Proper fitting of a backpack is just one way to prevent pain caused by backpacks, though. Ensuring your child is packing their bag safely can also help reduce their risk of developing backpack related pain or injuries. When helping your student load up their bag this year, keep in mind, it is recommended that a loaded bag never weight more than 10% of the child’s total body weight. Therefore, if a child weighs 100 pounds, their backpack should not weigh more than 10. It is also suggested the various compartments and pockets be utilized in order to better distribute the weight, with heavier items being placed in compartments closer to the child’s back.

Choosing that perfect backpack can be quite the challenge, especially with all the styles, trends and colors available. But hopefully with this knowledge, your child can not only look cool with their bag, but also feel great too as they begin their new school year. For more information on safe backpacks for the school year, please check out these articles from the American Occupational Therapy Association:

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