Backpack Awareness Day

Backpacks are worn to school every day by millions of kids around the world, but have you ever thought about the serious health effects that backpacks can cause children? The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has stated a backpack awareness day to help raise awareness about how to properly wear a backpack and how heavy it should be. According to the AOTA, in 2007 over 2,000 backpack related injuries were treated in emergency rooms and physician offices. In one study with American students ages 11 to 15 years, 64% reported back pain related to heavy backpacks. Twenty one percent reported the pain lasting more than 6 months.

According to the AOTA there are 3 simple steps to backpack wearing to help reduce the risk of injury. The first step is to pack it properly.  Make sure to utilize all compartments and pockets of the backpack to help distribute weight, and keep the heavier items closer to the back center of the backpack. A backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s total body weight. The second step is put it on correctly. Make sure your child is picking up the backpack by bending and lifting in the knees instead of the waist to prevent back injury. The third step is to make sure the backpack is adjusted and worn properly. Always use both shoulder straps and make sure the backpack rests snugly against the back. Make sure that the backpack does not go above your child’s shoulders or below the top of the hip bones.

National Backpack awareness day is September 20th.  Next week, September 25-29th, we  will be hosting backpack weigh-ins and fit checks.  Bring you backpack with you to your therapy appointments, and we will help to make sure your backpack is:

  • the right size and weight for your body, and
  • adjusted and packed correctly to distribute weight evenly.

We will also provide information on avoiding injuries during use and wear, tips on carrying other styles bags (including purses and briefcases), and general tips for school success!  You may even win a prize for participating! 

Backpack awareness links and more information

-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT and Krista Flack MS OTR/L

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