Help protect kids from stress and strain, experts say
MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Backpacks help kids carry schoolbooks and supplies, but they can also be harmful when overloaded and/or improperly fitted, warns the American Physical Therapy Association.
"Wearing backpacks improperly or ones that are too heavy put children at increased frisk for musculoskeletal injuries," Mary Ann Wilmarth, assistant dean and director of the transitional doctors of physical therapy degree at Northeastern University in Boston, said in a prepared statement. She's conducted a number of studies on school backpacks.
Injuries occur when children use faulty postures -- such as arching the back, bending forward, twisting, or leaning to one side -- when they're trying to manage a heavily loaded backpack. These faulty postures can cause improper spinal alignment, which hampers the functioning of spinal discs that provide shock absorption, Wilmarth explained.
Overloaded backpacks also place an extra burden on muscles and soft tissues, causing fatigue and strain that increases the risk of neck, shoulder and back injuries.
Wilmarth offered some backpack safety tips:
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about backpack safety.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Association, news release, Aug. 14, 2007
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