This time of year is crammed with sports seasons, back-to-school shopping, and dreaded homework assignments. In order to complete those assignments, students are expected to carry home multiple textbooks in one night. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, nearly 28,000 people were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms for backpack-related injuries. On September 19th, Spaulding Outpatient Center for Children Lexington is celebrating their second annual Backpack Awareness Day to assess children’s backpacks.
The event is free, and begins at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., all patients, families, and community members are invited to attend. Therapists will be available to discuss and identify properly fitting backpacks to ensure your child’s safety. Scales will be used to weigh and determine the weight your child can safely bear. Children are recommended to carry no more than 15% of their body weight. That equals 8 pounds if your child weighs 50 pounds.
“Small steps can make a big difference when it comes to reducing the stress on the back muscles,” says Jennifer Stornelli, Occupational Therapist and Clinical Supervisor at Spaulding Outpatient Center Lexington. “Teaching children how to properly wear their backpacks and how to pack their backpacks can significantly reduce the strain on growing backs.”
Many teachers and parents don’t realize the effects a heavy backpack can have on a young, developing back. Wearing a backpack on both shoulders and properly adjusting the straps decreases your child’s risk of suffering from back pain as they grow older. Certain backpacks come with chest harnesses and pelvic straps to help alleviate the stress on the back; however these straps alone will not eliminate the risk of straining your back muscles.
Last year’s event attracted close to 50 children whose backpacks were evaluated and weighed to ensure students’ safety. Therapists will also be available to discuss women’s purse weight and the proper technique to carry heavy purses with a child in tote. Spaulding Lexington is located on Maguire Road conveniently located off of Rt. 128, exit 31B.