I know a lot of you will probably disagree, but facts are facts. We all sympathize when we see a tiny child carrying a heavy backpack loaded down with their books.
I did some research and the majority of backpack injuries are caused by students tripping over the backpacks or being hit by the backpack. Students put them in aisles or in halls or other walkways and then, they or other children fall over them. The child doesn’t realize how far the backpack sticks out from their back when they carry it, they turn too quickly and hit someone with the backpack. Or they are carrying it in one hand and swing it and hit someone. 89% of ALL backpack injuries were from these two causes and of the total number of backpack reported injuries only 13% of ALL backpack injuries affect the back! (2% were ones where they fell or were hit in the back.) 22% of the backpack related injuries were to the head and face!
Now this does leave the 11% of back injuries that were not caused by tripping or being hit. These are usually the result of:
1) The backpack was too large for the child in the first place, you can’t expect a backpack for a 16 year old to fit a 6 year old. Buy the right size!
2) The backpack was not being worn properly; it was being carried over the shoulder instead of centered in the middle of the back.
3) The straps were not properly adjusted. We set them up right at the beginning of the school year but straps wear and slip and children grow. You have to readjust them or repair them periodically.
4) The child is carrying their entire world in their backpack! My son was like this. Things went in and never came out again! Plus they have to take everything they own with them in the backpack; they might need it or want to show it to a friend, etc. Make them clean it out at least once a week! Then you can make sure assignments are being turned in, permission slips are found before the day of the field trip, and the weight does not just continue to grow as the year progresses.
These simple tips will help prevent most of the back injuries. Of course, if you can convince the student body that wheels on backpacks are not “geeky” that would really help!