Dr. Deepak Sharan backpack safety
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Backpack Safety & Musculoskeletal Health in Schoolchildren

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
  • Swelling
  • 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:

  1. Take print outs of the Posture Survey and mail the completed forms to me. CLICK HERE FOR THE FORM.
  2. Fill the online Posture Survey HERE


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.

Enter your email to join the Backpack Safety Forum today!



Junior Back School

Topics covered:

  1. Correct body mechanics and posture
  2. Backpack safety
  3. Healthy computing
  4. Preventive exercises

Duration: 60 minutes. This multimedia based programme is suitable for classroom education, parent teacher meetings or activity clubs for children.

Please contact me with your requirement along with the number of children expected to attend.