Do you think much about the safety of the backpack that you carry?

National School Backpack Awareness Day is an educational event is sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association to support students of all ages.  In addition, the Occupational Therapy (OT) providers at New Horizons Wellness Services are working to call attention to backpack safety. Health problems in children and adults can be caused by backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly.

Have you noticed how many books and other items your child carries to and from school daily?

As a high school or college student, do you struggle to pack around the things that you need for long days in class? Research suggests that the amount of weight people carry in their backpacks is a growing national health concern. For example, problems that can be related to improper backpack use include neck, shoulder and low back pain. In addition, postural limitations can occur as children change the way that they hold their bodies to compensate for the weight of their backpack. For more information about safety concerns related to backpacks, click here.

Occupational Therapists can help to determine what type of backpack is the best fit and how items should be packed inside.

Your Occupational Therapist can help you find the right size and style pack to fit your child’s body. In addition, exercises to develop core strength and good posture with and without a backpack on can be included in the treatment plan. Occupational Therapists can help to prevent the “Black Hole” of backpacks, where too many papers and supplies are put inside so that students can’t find what they need. This is especially common with students experiencing executive function disorder or ADHD. OTs provide organizational strategies to reduce the need to carry as many supplies each day.

National School Backpack Awareness Day is a reminder to all of us look at backpacks and consider if changes need to be made to what is carried and how the pack is worn. Here is a helpful handout to you get started: Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students” .

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