Medwatch: Backpack safety

Medwatch: Backpack safety

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - The 2020-2021 school year is underway, and parents need to make sure their kid’s load isn’t too heavy. While it’s important to make sure they’re not overwhelmed by their schoolwork, parents also need to make sure their backpack isn’t weighing them down.

Doctor Seeta Vangala, a pediatrician at the Lawton Community Health Center, said every year he sees kids who are having back, neck, and shoulder pain because their backpack is too heavy. So, how much should one weigh?

“The common consensus from the American Academy of Pediatrics is 10% of your body weight is the right amount,” Dr. Vangala said. “Maximum, 15.”

So, if your kid weighs 50 pounds, their backpack shouldn’t weigh more than five pounds. How it’s stacked can also play a factor.

“The heavy items in the front, the light items in the back,” he said. “Those things matter. Sometimes I have kids with the backpacks slouched down their back, and that’s probably not the right way to wear a backpack.”

And if you like to wear it only on one shoulder...

“That is definitely not the right way. It causes a lot of neck pain and imbalance. It does cause a lot of shoulder pain too,” Dr. Vangala said.

If your backpack has a chest strap, he said you should use that too.

Doctor Vangala said he’s even seen it with his daughter because she likes to pack everything she can into her bag.

“Whenever she comes home and says ‘ahhhh’ I know that her backpack is heavy,” Dr. Vangala said. “It should not be when they take their backpack off they feel happy. It should not be causing them unhappiness, causing a lot of strain on their backs or feeling like they’re carrying the whole load.”

Dr. Vangala said you don’t need to weigh your kid’s backpack every morning before they leave for school, but it is something you should check and keep an eye on.

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