When students return to school, they’re often carrying too many pounds of books and supplies.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that backpacks caused 7,300 emergency room visits in 2006.
“The abnormal stress causes spines to go into disarray,” said Dr. Mark Dumas, who owns Dumas Chiropractic in Toledo. “Some kids have 10 pounds of computer in there, plus the books; that’s going to cause some problems.”
Dumas said improperly fitted packs cause abnormal tension across the shoulders and neck, and that they can even “affect the breathing mechanisms and swallowing mechanisms.”
Dr. Steve Morrison, of Toledo Chiropractic, said he’s most worried by patients’ headaches.
According to backpacksafe.com, a maximum of 15 percent of your body weight should go into your backpack.
That means if you weigh 80 pounds, you should carry 12 pounds or less in your bag.
Morrison said a good backpack should fit well and have shoulder straps that allow the pack to hang off the shoulders, rather than stay high up on the back.
“It’ll vary by different children,” he said. “Just be comfortable about it and don’t overload it.”
Backpacks aren’t the only bags causing concern. Dumas said kids and parents could consider using roll-along packs, “but the consensus is still out on the safety of those, too.”
And Dumas said that the heavy bags or purses favored by some women can cause the same stresses, stretching the shoulder and straining the hips.
Dumas advised going to a chiropractor or orthopedic doctor before buying a backpack.
“We have ergonomic packs, and they’re going to disperse the load more easily,” he said.
On the web visit www.backpacksafe.com and click on links for more.