Heavy, overpacked backpacks have received a lot of attention from parents, doctors, school administrators and the media over the past several years. While our teachers are striving to offer better education , they are also unintentionally overstuffing our childrens’ backpacks in the process. A strain/sprain injury to the spine can be one of the most deblilitating long-term injuries. These injuries become chronic when a child is lugging a heavy backpack around everyday from September until June every year.
A “strain” injury is an overstretching of the muscle-ligament attachments in the spine. Since there are 24 movable spinal vertabrae, this can become a more complex injury. Because there is no time during the school year for this injury to heal properly, it can invariably result in a “sprain” injury.
A “sprain” injury is when the initial over-stretching of the strain progresses to cause micro-tears in the mucle-ligament attachments. The problem those micro-tears cause is that the normal elastic tissue that once was is replaced by fibrotic tissue, or scar tissue. Because scar tissue lacks the elasticity of normal tissue, the muscle-ligament attachments loose some flexibility and increase the of future injury.
These injuries set the young spine up for premature old age. These injuries can be prevented with a proper supportive backpack and a lighter load.
- difficulty when putting on or taking off backpack
- pain when wearing backpack
- tingling or numbness in the arms or legs
- any student demonstrating a forward lean greater than 10-15 degrees
- red strap marks over the anterior part of the shoulders
- any change in side to side posture while wearing the backpack
- a backpack greater than 10-15% of the child’s bodyweight (depends on overall fitness of the child)
Disadvantages of wheeled backpacks…
- Compared to a backpack without wheels, wheeled backpacks can weight up to 80% more. Simply put, they add weight to every lift the child makes. Improper lifting with heavier weight adds to spinal distortion and strain.
- There’s still the issue of lifting properly and safely to ascend and descend stairs with wheeled backpack.
- Pulling a heavy backpack through a crowded hallway can also be difficult. This can result in more strain on the shoulders and wrists.
If your child suffers from Back Pain due to a Back Pack, call 201-487-3131 tocay to schedule an appointment with Dr. Demetri Meimaris at his office in Hackensack, NJ for an evaluation.
Dr. Demetri Meimaris, 31 Mercer Street, Suite 1A, Hackensack, New Jersey, 07601