Every year, thousands of children receive emergency treatment for injuries to their necks and backs, sustained from carrying loads too heavy for their bodies to bear.
What is loading down these children? In a word, backpacks! Children are carrying bags of books and school supplies on a daily basis; a variety of items required for their academic and extracurricular load.
In NYC, this problem is especially difficult, as children spend a lot more time on their feet. We are a city of walkers; we carry more stuff.
Good news: Kids and their parents can avoid disaster by taking some simple measures, including seeking the advice of a professional back specialist in NYC. Prevention is always better than emergency care!
A child should carry no more than 15% of his or her body weight in a backpack. (Obesity rates notwithstanding; a child’s pack should weigh no more than 15% of a typical healthy weight for a child of his or her height and age.) A kid who weighs 85 pounds should be carrying less than 13 pounds on his or her back!
Remember that a child is growing and forming at every moment. Even a 17 year old kid who seems extremely energetic and strong is still vulnerable to permanent injury from sustaining an excessive amount of weight in a backpack over time.
Long term damage to a child’s developing skeleton and muscles is very real, even though it can seem like no big deal for a kid to carry books and notebooks, a laptop, and other supplies daily over the course of a school year.
Not only does the load have limits, the design and fit of the pack are significant as well; a bag or pack that hangs off a kid creates extra strain. A properly designed and fitted pack will allow a child to move freely and carry it easily; proper fit will insure correct posture and support.
Stress and Strain on Kids
It is dangerous to load children down with schedules that overwhelm them mentally and emotionally. Now the evidence of actual, lasting physical damage from carrying too much weight in backpacks every day is coming to light by several back specialists in NYC.
Could Be Worse!
As recently as 1938, laws were finally enacted to take the burden of the Industrial Revolution off the backs of American children, to protect them from permanent harm. Before that, innumerable children were put to work in heavy industry at very young ages.
Times have changed. But somehow, the weight of the culture’s aspirations has not left the backs of children! Though our children are no longer being killed and maimed outright in factories and mines, nor being exploited ruthlessly in the streets and denied opportunity for health and balance in life, they are still under burden.
Jesse Dugan is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @JesseDugan.