Oversized Backpacks Cause Student Injuries


Students shouldn’t wear a backpack heavier than 15 percent of their body weight, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Concern about student health is the thrust behind an annual AOTA campaign being promoted locally by Harris County Department of Education’s Therapy Service.

“Children begin to suffer when they wear a heavy, 20-pound backpack throughout the year,” said Jean Polichino, director of HCDE’s Therapy Services.  Per AOTA guidelines, Polichino says a child of 100 pounds shouldn’t bear a load heavier than 15 pounds. Doing so may result in an onset of pain and strain.

HCDE’s therapy specialists work with children and families in schools, homes and daycare centers throughout greater Harris County.  Specialists include physical therapists and assistants, occupational therapists and assistants, speech-language pathologists, music therapists and art therapists.

  Here are a list of tips for preventing backpack pain and strain per the AOTA:

  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back, or the back of the pack.
  • Arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Adjust shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home.  Make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities.
  • On days the backpack is too full, your child can hand carry a book or other item. 
  • If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

For questions about backpack safety or HCDE’s Therapy Services, call Polichino at (713) 696-8232. Harris County Department of Education Aug. 10 press release

Tagged with: Student Health
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