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National School Backpack Awareness Day: Sept. 18, 2013

By Jody Smith HERWriter
 
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Sept. 18, 2013 is National School Backpack Awareness Day
Monkey Business-New/PhotoSpin

This year, National School Backpack Awareness Day falls on Sept. 18, 2013. The goal of the American Occupational Therapy Association is to help Americans to Live Life To Its Fullest.

The AOTA will be joining with educators, students and occupational therapy practitioners across the country to help students protect themselves against injuries and pain from carrying bags and backpacks that are too heavy.

Forty million students have been going back to school in the month of September. And many of them without realizing it may be setting themselves up for injury. Back, neck and shoulder pain can result from backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly. Breathing and healthy posture can be hindered.

International research from Australia, Hong Kong and Italy as well as the United States has been done on the effects of heavy backpacks. One study indicated that chronic back pain affects 60 percent of students between the ages of 9 and 20 years old.

Occupational therapy practitioners for past awareness days have weighed students wearing their backpacks and have showed ways to reduce the stress on their backs, shoulders and necks.

Here are 10 tips for safer and more comfortable backpack use from the AOTA:

1) Children should not carry more than 15 percent of their body weight.

2) The heaviest items should be closest to a child's back, make sure items are arranged so they can't slide around in the pack.

3) Children should wear both straps to prevent curving of the spine and to prevent pain.

4) Shoulder straps should be well-padded.

5) To make the backpack a snug fit, adjust straps accordingly, so the bottom rests in the curve of the lower back, no more than four inches below the waist.

6) The backpack's waist belt ensures even weight distribution.

7) Go through the backpack's contents, so your child is only carrying what is needed for the day.

8) A book bag on wheels is better than a heavy backpack if the school will permit it.

9) Make sure your child's backpack is a good fit, with room for everything your child will need.

10) Take your child to a doctor or occupational therapist if your child has a sore neck or back.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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