Backpack Safety Facts

• A University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine-led team found that how loads are distributed under backpack straps may help identify the source of shoulder and back pain in children. The study, published in the December 5, 2005 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, concludes that the average backpack load that children are now carrying should be reduced.

• A University of Michigan Study found that up to 60% of children will experience back pain by the time they reach 18 years of age.

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 7,277 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags. The CPSC also reports that backpack-related injuries are up 330% since 1996.

• Waist belts may cause forced excessive distribution across a growing pelvis leading to possible pelvic abnormalities. (Congress of Chiropractic State Associations and Prof. Mary Hickey Northeastern University, 2002)

• Roller backpacks may result in forward head and thoracic deviations just as severe as children carrying excessively heavy backpacks. Though the load of the backpack is no longer on the skeletal structure, dragging the backpack may result in rotary forces on the spine through the involved arm. (Physical Therapy Products, March, 2002)

• A study by Northeastern University (June, 01) reported that the average student has a VAS (visual analog scale) pain level of 4.3 with a high percent reporting pain in the range of 8-9. The students who wore an AirPacks backpack for six weeks had a VAS pain level of 1.8, a 50% reduction in pain.

• When 200 New England school nurses were surveyed, 66% reported seeing students with pain or injury that could be attributed to carrying backpacks that were too heavy.

• A study by Simmons College found that 55% of students carry more than the recommended guidelines of 10 – 15% (February, 2001)

Example: A child weighing:

– 50 lbs. should carry no more than 7.5 lbs.

– 80 lbs. should carry no more than 12 lbs.

– 100 lbs. should carry no more than 15 lbs.

– 130 lbs. should carry no more than 19.5 lbs.

– 150 lbs. should carry no more than 22.5 lbs.

Many children, teens and adults are carrying up to 40 lbs. and are potentially injuring themselves. LIT-FACT-3300 15.02.06a

Tips On Wearing Your Backpack Safely and Properly

• Distribute the weight evenly. Put the heavier items on the bottom to keep the weight off of your shoulders and maintain better posture.

• Wear both shoulder straps unless your pack is designed for use on one shoulder. Carrying a heavy backpack using one strap can shift the weight to one side, which can lead to neck and muscles spasms, low back pain and walking improperly

• Choose backpacks that have heavily padded shoulder straps and a lumbar support. Non-padded straps dig into the shoulders causing pain due to compressional loading of the acromio-clavicular joints and stress on the trapezious muscles.

• Choose a backpack that has a lumbar cushion. The lumbar cushion will redistribute weight to the lower extremities, creating a fulcrum that facilitates anupright standing position.

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