Backpack Safety & Musculoskeletal Health in
Did you know?
- Over 50 per cent of schoolchildren in Chennai (Medline)
were found to be in chronic pain due to carrying heavy backpacks
- After our sustained campaign in association with Indian Academy
of Pediatrics, Cochin, Kerala became
the 2nd State in the world (after California) to pass a
law banning heavy Backpacks in Schools.
At the start of each academic year, it is customary to express
concern in the print media about the plight of our over-burdened
children. There was an unsuccessful attempt in Karnataka at seeking
legal intervention in 2003. Unfortunately, the matter tends to rest
there and nothing really changes, except in a handful of enterprising
and empathetic schools.
So, what does carrying heavy backpacks actually do?
- Total weight on the body increases
- The direction and magnitude of the resultant force changes
- The body usually leans forward
- The body's center of gravity changes affecting stability
- A healthy body compensates for this change to maintain stability
- Commonly, the head is raised up to prevent falling forward
- If the body's adjusting capacity is exceeded, health is affected
Depending on the magnitude, direction, frequency and duration
of the external forces due to backpacks, one or more of the
following may happen either instantaneously or over time:
- Tiredness or muscle fatigue
- Pain in the head, neck, back, shoulders,
arms or hands
- Muscle spasms or stiffness
- Tingling or numbness
- Curved or rounded back
- Altered gait
The immediate result of carrying too much unbalanced weight for
too long is muscle soreness and strained ligaments. Researchers
have found that backpacks lead to restricted movement of the spine
and alter the fluid content of discs, making the child a prime candidate
for permanent structural damage such as herniated ("slipped") disc
and degenerative arthritis of spine later in life.
For solutions and to read my other articles
on Backpack Safety and School Health CLICK HERE
National Posture Survey
- This is a national study to estimate
the extent of health problems arising out of heavy backpacks.
Initially, the study will commence at Bangalore and Kochi
(in collaboration with Indian Academy of Pediatrics), and
may be later extended to other cities.
- Parents, medical professionals and
schools interested in finding solutions to the backpack
issue are invited to join this study. Contact
me for further information.
- There are several prizes (well-designed
backpacks) on offer to encourage participation. Every respondent
will get an attractive brochure on Backpack Safety.
Options to participate in the study:
- Take print outs of the Posture Survey
and mail the completed forms to me. CLICK
- Fill the online Posture Survey
Backpack Safety Discussion Forum
This forum is meant for parents, school children, educators, school
administrators, medical professionals, manufacturers of backpacks,
etc. to discuss health issues arising from improper use of heavy
backpacks and possible solutions. The list is expected to be India-centric
though individuals from other countries are welcome to join and
contribute to the forum.
Junior Back School
- Correct body mechanics and posture
- Backpack safety
- Healthy computing
- Preventive exercises
Duration: 60 minutes. This multimedia based programme is suitable
for classroom education, parent teacher meetings or activity clubs
me with your requirement along with the
number of children expected to attend.