From homework and tests to extra-curricular activities, students already shoulder plenty of weight during back-to-school time. Their backpacks should be the least of their worries, says physical therapist Amy Snyder, MPT, DPT, of PT Plus’s Milwaukee clinic.
“Backpacks are so practical, but they’re also so easy to misuse,” Snyder said. “If they’re too heavy or just worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause strained muscles, sore joints, back pain and even injury in kids.” The American Occupational Therapy Association estimates that about 79 million students across the U.S. carry school backpacks. Among these, nearly 22,000 strains, sprains, dislocations and fractures – ailments caused by improper backpack use – were reported by medical providers in 2013, according to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.
“These injuries are preventable,” Snyder said. “Parents can play an active role in in preventing these injuries by first selecting the right packs for their kids, then ensuring these packs are worn correctly.”
In this spirit, Snyder offers the following tips for parents, guardians and teachers: