Parents, students warned to avoid backpack injuries

Pediatrician: 'We have tons of kids come in complaining'

SAN ANTONIO – With the new school year underway, those got-to-have, trendy backpacks are going to fill up fast with books, binders and a lot more.

Those overloaded backpacks that may look bigger than your child could cause back problems, even at a young age, said Dr. Sky Izaddoost, a pediatrician and primary care physician with the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. 

Already a common problem across the country, “we have tons of kids that come in complaining,” said Dr. Sky, as she’s best known by her patients.

She said the best way to prevent and even help treat those injuries is by taking care of the problem that caused them.

“If they already have back pain and damage to their back, they’re more likely to have pain and damage to their back when they grow up," Dr. Sky said.

She said parents should make certain their child's backpack is the right size for him or her.

“You want a backpack to be at the waistline,” Dr. Sky said.

She said parents should shorten the straps on the backpack, and they should be wide enough to help distribute the weight and hold the backpack in position.

Dr. Sky said the backpack should be carried in the center of the back, between the shoulder blades.

She also advises putting the heaviest item in the middle of the backpack, and avoid stuffing the pockets on the outside of the backpack.

Although it was thought heavy backpacks could cause scoliosis or curvature of the spine, Dr. Sky said recent studies show, “It really doesn’t do that.”

“Instead it can cause chronic back pain and cause spasms of the muscles,” she said.

Dr. Sky urges parents to monitor just how heavy or bulky their child’s backpack is, check for tell-tale red marks on their shoulders and make sure the backpack is not just hanging off one shoulder.

She also said it would be a good idea to talk to other parents about asking teachers to help lighten the load by giving their students time to go to their lockers to put away items they’d be carrying to and from school. 

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