Friday, August 21, 2009

Back Problems

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - It may be just another school supply, but it's one that may be causing extra stress on your child.

It may be colorful and trendy, but backpacks could cause your child pain or even scoliosis

A backpack should never be more than 15 percent of your child's body weight and it should not rest lower than the base of the child's back.

That's why the Hand and Upper Extremity Rehab Clinic in Terre Haute is offering a free Backpack Safety 101 program for parents.

Occupational Therapist Ashim Bakshi said it may come to a surprise for some parents, but it's one that should be taken seriously.

"The muscular skeletal system continues to grow during this age group so it's important that you don't put undo stress on all these parts," Bakshi said.

Children wearing the wrong backpack can start feeling pain after 3 to 4 months.


Backpack safety for children

Reshma Chowdhury

Backpack safety

Backpacks come in all sizes, colors, fabrics, and shapes and help kids of all ages express their own personal sense of style. And when used properly, they're incredibly handy.

Many packs feature multiple compartments that help students stay organized while they tote their books and papers from home to school and back again. Compared with shoulder bags, messenger bags, or purses, backpacks are better because the strongest muscles in the body - the back and the abdominal muscles - support the weight of the packs.

When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse.

As practical as backpacks are, though, they can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they're too heavy or are used incorrectly. Here's how to help kids find the right backpack.

Problems Backpacks Can Pose

Although many factors can lead to back pain - increased participation in sports or exercise, poor posture while sitting, and long periods of inactivity - some kids have backaches because they're lugging around their entire locker's worth of books, school supplies, and assorted personal items all day long. But most doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs.

To help understand how heavy backpacks can affect a kid's body, it helps to understand how the back works. The spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae, and between the vertebrae are discs that act as natural shock absorbers.

When a heavy weight, such as a backpack filled with books, is incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight's force can pull a child backward. To compensate, a child may bend forward at the hips or arch the back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally. The heavy weight might cause some kids to develop shoulder, neck, and back pain.

Kids who wear their backpacks over just one shoulder - as many do, because they think it looks better - may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. They might develop lower and upper back pain and strain their shoulders and neck.

Improper backpack use can also lead to poor posture. Girls and younger kids may be especially at risk for backpack-related injuries because they're smaller and may carry loads that are heavier in proportion to their body weight.

Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves. These types of straps can contribute to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.

And bulky or heavy backpacks don't just cause back injuries. Other safety issues to consider:

Kids who carry large packs often aren't aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of the school bus.

Students are often injured when they trip over large packs or the packs fall on them.

Carrying a heavy pack changes the way a person walks and increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where the backpack puts the student off balance.

Purchasing a Safe Pack

Despite their potential problems, backpacks are an excellent tool for kids when used properly. But before you buy that trendy new backpack your kid or teen has been begging you for, consider the backpack's construction.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents look for the following when choosing the right backpack:

a lightweight pack that doesn't add a lot of weight to your child's load (for example, even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks)

two wide, padded shoulder straps; straps that are too narrow can dig into shoulders

a padded back, which not only provides increased comfort, but also protects kids from being poked by sharp edges on objects (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack

a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body

multiple compartments, which can also help distribute the weight more evenly

Although packs on wheels (which look like small, overhead luggage bags) may be good options for students who have to lug around really heavy loads, they're extremely difficult to pull up stairs and to roll through snow. Check with the school before buying a rolling pack; many schools don't allow them because they can pose a tripping hazard in the hallways.

Using Backpacks Wisely

To help kids prevent injury when using a backpack:

Lighten the load. No matter how well-designed the backpack, doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry packs of no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight - but less is always better. If you don't know what that 10% to 15% feels like, use the bathroom scale (for example, the backpack of a child who weighs 80 pounds shouldn't weigh more than 8 to 12 pounds).

Use and pick up the backpack properly. Make sure kids use both shoulder straps. Bags that are slung over the shoulder or across the chest - or that only have one strap - aren't as effective at distributing the weight as bags with two wide shoulder straps, and therefore may strain muscles. Also tighten the straps enough for the backpack to fit closely to the body and sit 2 inches (5 centimeters) above the waist.

A lot of the responsibility for packing lightly - and safely - rests with kids:

Encourage kids to use their locker or desk frequently throughout the day instead of carrying the entire day's worth of books in the backpack.

Make sure kids don't toting unnecessary items - laptops, CD players, and video games can add extra pounds to a pack.

Encourage kids to bring home only the books needed for homework or studying each night.

Ask about homework planning. A heavier pack on Fridays might mean that a child is procrastinating on homework until the weekend, making for an unnecessarily heavy backpack.

Picking up the backpack the right way can also help kids avoid back injuries. As with any heavy weight, they should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting a backpack to the shoulders.

Use all of the backpack's compartments, putting heavier items, such as textbooks, closest to the center of the back.

Being a Safe Backpack Advocate

Involving other parents and your child's school in solving students' backpack burdens might help to lessen kids' loads. Some ways the school can get involved include:allowing students more time in between classes to use lockers purchasing paperback books implementing school education programs about safe backpack use purchasing books on CD-ROM or putting some curriculum on the school's website, when possible

You may need to adjust kids' backpacks and/or reduce how much they carry if they struggle to get the backpack on or off have back pain lean forward to carry the backpack

If your child has back pain or numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, talk to your chiropractor, doctor or physical therapist.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Dear Dr. Levister: My two sons dread carrying backpacks during school. They complain of back pain. What are the rules for selecting and wearing backpacks? G. R.

Dear G.R.: Backpacks are a popular and practical way for children and teenagers to carry school books and supplies.

When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day. Be sure your child’s school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day. Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager. Ask your pediatrician or health care professional for advice.

Backpacks are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles. However, backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as long term posture problems. Share these guidelines to help your kids select backpacks and use them safely.

Doctors recommend that kid’s backpacks should not be more than 15% of their total body weight. When choosing a backpack. Look for wide, padded features with two shoulder straps.

Backpacks with one narrow strap can dig into the shoulders.

This can cause pain and restrict circulation. A padded backpack protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increases comfort. A lightweight backpack with a waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly. If you’re going to carry a heavy backpack make sure you use the hip strap, instead of letting it just hang there.

The rolling backpack is an excellent choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs.

Always use both straps. Do not sling the back pack over one shoulder. Pack light.

Tighten the straps. Organize the backpack. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. Bend using both knees. Learn and perform back strengthening exercises to build up the muscles used to carry a backpack.


It's Backpack Safety Time

EDINA, Minn., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Backpacks can be a leading cause of back and shoulder pain for millions of children and adolescents. As students prepare for school, the Minnesota Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the American Spine Foundation (ASF) want to shed light on backpack safety.

The MCA and ASF are offering parents tips on preventing unnecessary backpack pain and injuries.

* Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps? Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, but can also place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.
* Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.
* Are the shoulder straps adjustable? The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child's back.
* Size is important. The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child's torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
* Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
* Does the pack have several compartments? A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to the body.

The MCA and ASF recommend that parents help children pack their backpacks properly, and make sure children never carry more than 10 percent of their body weight. For example, a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn't carry a backpack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50-pound child shouldn't carry more than 5 pounds.

Parents should ask their children to report any pain or other problems resulting from carrying a backpack. To find a doctor of chiropractic near you, visit MCA's Web site at


As many stores, are preparing for a busy week of back to school supply sales,

Pediatrician Dr. Bimbrahw is preparing for a busy week as well.

"They`ve been trying to get their problems fixed before school," says Bimbrahw.

Believe it or not once school starts doctors sometimes see an increase of children coming through the doors.

"More than 10,000 children nationally suffer injuries from backpacks," says Bimbrahw.

Children are stuffing to much weight into their backpacks and that can cause some major problems.

"We have back sprains and spinal injuries," says Bimbrahw.

That`s why it`s important parent`s teach kids how to safely pack a backpack.

"Make sure you have no more than 15% of ones body weight in there," says Bimbrahw.

Bimbrahw also says students will carry their backpacks on one shoulder, putting all their weight on to one side which can be very dangerous

"All this relates to injuries on the back," says Bimbrawe.

And as students start to bring more books home in their backpacks, an alternative safer suggestion would be a backpack on wheels.

"They`re a good option. The only thing that might be hard is rolling them up the stairs," says Bimbrawe.

So when you get ready for the first day of school the goal isn`t to see how much stuff you can fit in your backpack, but to make sure you are playing it safe.


With the first day of school just around the corner, some kids can't wait to pack up their backpacks with school supplies. But Riley Children's Hospital says carrying the wrong bag could lead to serious health problems.

First look for backpacks with wide shoulder straps. Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child. When packing, lay the heaviest item in the bag first so it will be closest to your child's back.

Click here for more tips.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


August 12, 2009

Free safety checks of backpacks offered

Town Talk staff

The chiropractic office of Dr. Adam Hebert is offering free backpack safety checks during August to help ensure backpacks don't cause health problems for students.

A safety check can be scheduled at the office, located at 3021 La. Highway 28 East in Pineville, by calling (318) 619-1114.

Hebert noted the American Chiropractic Association offers the following tips for parents to consider concerning their children's backpacks:

--Make sure a child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight.

--A backpack with individualized compartments will help you position the contents most effectively.

--When packing a backpack, make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on the child's back.

--Tell your child to use both shoulder straps, not just one, to prevent disproportionately shifting of all of the weight to one side, which could cause neck and muscle spasms and lower back pain.

--Backpacks should have padded shoulder straps, and the straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to a child's body.