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Health Tip: Backpack Injuries

Is your child at risk?

(HealthDay News) -- Overloaded backpacks used by children have received a lot of attention from parents, doctors, school administrators and the media in recent years.

More than 21,000 backpack-related injuries are treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors offices and clinics each year, with injuries ranging from contusions, to sprains and strains of the back and shoulder, and fractures.

Warning signs that a bag is too heavy include: change in posture when wearing the backpack; struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack; pain when wearing the backpack; tingling or numbness; and red marks.

The National Safety Council suggests your child wear both straps; wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles; lighten the load; and use proper lifting techniques.

The Council also advises that you choose the following when buying a backpack:

  • Ergonomically designed features that enhance safety and comfort
  • A padded back to reduce pressure on the back, shoulders and under arm regions, and enhance comfort
  • Hip and chest belts to transfer some of the backpack weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso
  • Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight in the backpack, keep items secure, and ease access to the contents
  • Compression straps on the sides or bottom of the backpack to stabilize the articles and compress the contents so that the items are as close to the back as possible
  • Reflective material to enhance visibility of the child to drivers at night
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