Years ago, if a child was trudging up the street with a sack over his shoulder, you might think he was going camping or running away from home. Today, however, it is unusual to see a child without a backpack. For many students, the expression “carrying a heavy load” has taken on a new meaning – one that could lead to permanent spinal column damage.
Backpacks offer a convenient method to transport necessary items to and from school, however thousands of school children cause themselves injury with overloaded or improperly carried bookbags.
In 1998, backpack injuries accounted for more than 3,300 emergency room visits. Nationwide, chiropractic family practitioners are seeing more cases of nontraumatic back pain in their pediatric patients, often associated with backpack use – and those are just the ones that are reported.
Students are not only carrying these bookbags to and from school, many children report carrying full backpacks all day long at school because they are prohibited from visiting their lockers during the day or because time between classes does not allow locker visits. We have weighed some of these loaded backpacks at as much as 25 pounds.
Spinal damage that children sustain from lifting backpacks is much like repetitive stress industrial injuries in adults. Educating children now could eliminate much pain and grief later in life. Billions of dollars in workers compensation are lost every year due to back, neck and repetitive stress injuries. Most of those are because of bad habits learned in childhood, habits that could be prevented by education at an early age. It has been estimated that, before they graduate high school, children will lift more than 22.000 pounds or eleven tons of backpack weight. That is enough to cause stress and injury, especially to a growing spinal column.
There is a saying, “As the twig bends, so grows the tree.” Backp