Tuesday, September 18, 2007

LCC issues backpack message

More backpack tips ...

"Pack it light and wear it right.That's the message Laredo Community College occupational therapy assistant students will be sending to students of all ages in observance of National School Backpack Awareness Day on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

LCC students enrolled in the two-year OTA program will offer informative presentations in some college classrooms and at various schools around town to raise awareness on the issue of school backpacks and health.

The observance is led nationally by the American Occupational Therapy Association to educate children, parents, teachers, and communities about the serious health problems that may arise from wearing backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly.

"Every year, we're seeing more children with stooped shoulders, sore necks, and aching backs from carrying school backpacks, and we can't afford to put our children at risk for a lifetime of problems," AOTA Executive Director Frederick P. Somers said. "Our children's future well-being is in jeopardy."

More than 40 million children in the United States carry school backpacks, and more than half of them may be carrying too much weight.

Children carrying overloaded backpacks and improperly worn packs, according to U.S. and international studies, are likely to experience neck, shoulder, and back pain; adverse effects on posture and the developing spine; and compromised breathing and fatigue.

The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission estimates that more than 7,000 emergency room visits in 2001 resulted from injuries related to backpacks and book bags - half of those occurred among children between the ages of 5 and 14, the ages of elementary and middle-school students.

The growing awareness of potential long-term problems to children has resulted in increased medical research and proposed legislation in at least two states to address the issue of backpack weight in relation to student health.

Some valuable tips from AOTA for loading and wearing backpacks:

* backpacks should weigh no more than 15 percent of body weight (15-pound pack on a 100-pound child);

* load heaviest items closest to the child's back;

* wear both shoulder straps for an evenly balanced load;

* adjust shoulder and waist straps to distribute the burden more evenly along the child's back; and
* suggest that teachers consider the total weight of each day's assigned class work - not only in content, but also in terms of textbook weight."    (Continued via Laredo Morning Times)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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