Dr. Campbell: Backpack safety - WNCN: News, Weather

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Dr. Campbell: Backpack safety

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RALEIGH, N.C. - As Students in our area go back to school, most will purchase a new backpack in order to carry essentials to and from school. It’s important to talk about keeping kids safe ---backpacks can result in back injury, but there are strategies to help you and your student pick the right type of backpack and use it properly, avoiding serious injury.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, backpack-related injuries send an estimated 5,000 children per year to emergency rooms. More than 14,000 children are treated annually for injuries.

When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse.

As practical as backpacks are, they can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they're too heavy or are used incorrectly.

Many kids have backaches because they're lugging around their entire locker's worth of books, school supplies, and assorted personal items all day long. Most doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight in their packs.

Improper backpack use can also lead to poor posture. Girls and younger kids may be especially at risk for backpack-related injuries because they're smaller and may carry loads that are heavier in proportion to their body weight.

Also, backpacks with tight, narrow straps that dig into the shoulders can interfere with circulation and nerves. These types of straps can contribute to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.

When worn correctly, the weight in a backpack is evenly distributed across the body, and shoulder and neck injuries are less common than if someone carried a briefcase or purse. Kids can also use both straps and a waist belt if available.

It’s important that you make sure to pick up the back pack and get a sense for what your kids are lugging around.

Ultimately, use good common sense—pick a bag that allows for even distribution of weight—shoulder straps combined with a waist straps lift the bag and keeps the stress off of the lower back.

Make sure your child isn't toting unnecessary items like laptops, CD players and video games. These can add a lot of weight.

Encourage your child to develop stronger lower back and abdominal muscles. This will help avoid injury. Weight training and yoga are two activities that can help strengthen core muscles.

Work on homework planning—make sure that students only bring home what they need.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

Copyright WNCN 2014. All rights reserved.

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