Did you buy the right backpack?

Video Transcript

Backpacks mean back-to-school.  Sure, some kids are sticking with last year's model-- or getting a hand-me down-- but, for thousands of kids-- a new backpack is part of their back to school supplies.
Most choose their backpacks for the style-- color-- catchy sayings or sparkles.  But-- that's far from what's important-- because your child's health should also play a part in that decision.

Doctors say there is a right way and wrong way to wear a back pack. 
First of all, a backpack should have two straps.  A so-called messenger bag like this one which is sometimes preferable for high school and college students because you can slide a laptop into it easily-- is the WORST choice.  It puts too much strain on the neck, and can cause neck pain.

A rolling pack takes the load off-- but many schools don't allow them because kids can trip and get hurt in crowded hallways-- or by trying to hoist them up stairs-- and they don't roll too well in the snow and ice if you live in a colder climate.   Check with your school's policies before you buy.

And-- don't be tempted to pick out the best backpack for your child without their input.  Explain the qualities that he or she should be looking for in a backpack--then they'll be more likely to pack it and wear it properly.

Tess is going into 6th grade.  She has experience with what the wrong backpack-- with too much weight-- can do to a kid's back.

 It felt like your back was being squeezed really tight-- and, when ever someone would touch it or tried to rub it out, it would hurt even more.

We had her examined to where the pediatrician looked at her and said immediately, "Ah, this is a severe back spasm"..
It took a good week before she was able to get up and move around, she missed three to four days of school because of the spasm, needed to go on muscle relaxants and just be flat on her back and take it easy.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends backpacks weigh no more than 10 percent of the child's body weight.   A 50 pound kid shouldn't be carrying around  more than 5 pounds of gear.   100 pounds... not more than 10 and so on.

So Tess-- is this about how heavy it was last spring?  A little lighter... So you can use can use your bathroom scale, or a luggage scale like this one-- we're going to see how heavy it is... 12 and half pounds, still too heavy for you-- just a little bit... okay, let's unload it. 

Now that Tess has learned a few things about how to pack a backpack... she's going to show us the right way to load it up.  
Well first, you want the heaviest binders in the very back... the lighter stuff in the smaller compartments so the weight is evenly distributed...

Okay now this backpack is packed properly, a little bit lighter, we left out a book, which Tess will just have to carry with her two hands.  Alright, great.

Putting a backpack on with only one strap, always a no-no-- so, let's see how it's fitting her now with both straps on... the straps should be thick, the load should be high, not resting on her lower back and the pack shouldn't be wider than your child's torso.  If you go by these guidelines, you child shouldn't suffer an injury like Tess did.

Tess's mom believes it wasn't the backpack that caused her daughter's injury-- but the enormous load she was carrying inside of it.

 I think the schools could help find a solution to this situation rather than just passing it off by saying "Well, this will help you build your strength".
it seemed like an unnecessary injury and I was especially frustrated because she was missing school because of school...
You're hearing about kids having more and more back pain because of their backpacks and more and more doctors writing notes excusing kids from having to wear their backpacks through the course of the day, so there has to be something that needs to be addressed regarding the weight of a backpack, and why are kids having to carry such a heavy load?  Sometimes up to half of their own body weight.

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