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Backpack Safety Event Aims to Lighten Load for Children

September 12, 2014 1:53 p.m.

Ever notice how many books, folders and other items your child carries to and from school everyday? Many children are carrying too much weight or improperly wearing backpacks, which can cause neck, shoulder and back pain that often lasts through adulthood.

On National Backpack Awareness Day September 17, Sarah Bush Lincoln Occupational Therapists are hosting a backpack safety event to educate students, parents and teachers about the proper weight and fit of school backpacks. Students can weigh their backpacks during the open house, which will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 pm in SBL Occupational Therapy, Prairie Pavilion 2, Suite 104. Therapists will also be on hand to offer tips on the proper way to load and carry backpacks in order to prevent neck, shoulder and back pain.

Luckily, preventing discomfort and pain is simple. SBL occupational therapists offer the following tips for keeping kids safe while toting books to and from school:

• Check that the child’s backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load.

• Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.

• Distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back and balance materials so the child can easily stand up straight.

• If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.

• Always select a backpack that is the correct size for your child.

• Always wear well-padded shoulder straps on both shoulders so the weight is evenly balanced. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spin and causing pain or discomfort.

For more information, call SBL Occupational Therapy at 217-258-2530.

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