The school year has started. Yesterday, my daughter brought her backpack to me and said, “Feel how heavy this is.” For her body weight, it felt about right. The recommended limit for backpacks is 10 to 15% of a child’s body weight. I said, “That’s good, I think you can manage that just fine.” “That’s just my folders and notebooks.”
Today, my daughter is supposed to receive and probably bring home her 6th grade textbooks. In addition to all of the “required” notebooks and folders, even one decent sized textbook is going to put her over the limit, never mind 6 of them!
As a parent and a chiropractor, how do I solve this dilemma? I don’t want her to get injured. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,000 children are seen by doctors for backpack injuries and 5,000 of those are ER visits. I see kids with backpack related issues and injuries. Based on what I see in my practice, I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers represented significant under-reporting and were actually much higher!
While solutions like digital textbooks and cloud-based access are still not being implemented widely, there are a few DIY things that you can do to protect your child. Good suggestions can be found here .
Unfortunately, even these measures do not solve the fundamental issue of too much weight in the packs. Paying attention to how the weight is carried is helpful and necessary to reduce risk, but it ignores the structure responsible for actually carrying the weight. Let me ask you this. Is your child active? Do they run and play and engage in activities of physical development? Have they fallen or run in to another child or been jerked around, even when it was fun? Did they ride a roller coaster, or get pulled behind a boat this summer?
If the answer is yes, then they may actually have a structural/functional issue in their spine. It may not show up during normal activities, but when you add another 20 or 40% of their body weight, that stress alone may reveal, aggravate, or even cause additional injury to a structural and functional spinal problem called vertebral subluxation.
If the answer is no, then your child may be even more at risk for injury due to under-developed strength and balance. Until they develop these aspects, making sure that they are not growing into injuries is a smart move.
Regardless, they need to be in prime shape to try and manage that much additional weight. As a chiropractor, I can’t think of a profession more qualified to help in this regard. Do not dismiss complaints of pain or discomfort as “normal”. Schedule an appointment to have your child assessed for spinal subluxation that may not be readily apparent.
As a parent, I know you want to give your child the best start to the new school year. I also know that this time of year puts more demands on your budget. From now until the end of September, I have a special offer. I will give your child a special spinal screening to check for evidence of vertebral subluxation for a special price of $50. PLUS, if you bring in the child’s loaded backpack, I will include a backpack fitting at no charge. These will be available on Saturdays from 11am until I’m done.
I’ll be checking my daughter regularly, just like I’ve done her entire life. Depending on what I see in the days and weeks ahead, I may be making more inquiries with the intention of keeping her safe and hopefully all the children safer.