Lawmakers are trying to save your child's back - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers are trying to save your child's back

March 3, 2003

Albany- State lawmakers say Georgia's kids are carrying way too much on their backs and parents agree.

"He doesn't have that many now, but I have a niece that has a lot of books and she carries a little carry on because its been hurting her back, so I think they need to limit the size of the books," says Quagelin Phillips.

"These kids don't need that many books on their back," exclaims Lisa Cook.

Cook's daughter carries two to three text books home every day, and both say its too much of a strain. "She's gone from a bookbag that's hurt her back to an overnight bag carrying her books, and that right there is heavy," Cook says.

"The other bookbag has the two straps and it was pulling me back, and this one is pulling my shoulder and it hurts," says fourth grader, Katie Steedly.

And when the pain gets too bad, many children end up at the chiropractor's office. "We're seeing a lot of kids coming in with increased neck pain, shoulder pain, and specifically upper back pain," explains chiropractor, Dr. Tim Wilbanks.

Wilbanks says a lot of the problems are caused by heavy bags and improper use of backpacks. "When you have a normally straight spine with a load on one side it's gonna pull the spine over to one side, so it's gonna put a lot of stress on not only the bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons, but also the muscles and upper back and shoulder area," points out Wilbanks.

Even the pull kind have their problems. He says if they're loaded with books and a child is pulling it behind them, the weight will also put stress on the nerves in the upper arm which could lead to shoulder problems.

Until the house decides how and if they will regulate backpack weights, chiropractors say there are several things you can do to save your child's back.

1. Try to buy a book bag with wide straps, and a waist strap. That will help distribute the weight.
2. Make sure the bottom of the bag does not more than four inches below the waist.
Sagging backpacks put strain on the muscles.
3. Pack the books in a pyramid shape with the heaviest book closest to the spine.
4. Just keep an eye on your child's posture and the weight of their books. Wilbanks says
backpacks should weigh no more than 10% to 15% of your child's own weight.

April is National Backpack Safety Month. All chiropractors are urged to educate parents and build awareness about the risks that heavy backpacks pose on spinal injury.

Posted at 10:25 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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