HCDE Back-to-School Tips: Pack Smart

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August 10, 2021 by HCDE-Texas

Every year, heavy and incorrectly worn backpacks cause children physical pain and strain. An article from the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission says that from 2016-2018, an estimated 7,400 children less than 19 years old were treated in emergency rooms for backpack-related injuries annually. As students head back to school this week, physical and occupational therapists at Harris County Department of Education offer tips for backpack safety.

Pack smart.

Here are five tips you can practice to help prevent backpack strain with your child:

  • Use the 10 percent rule. A backpack should weigh less than 10 percent of your child’s weight when fully packed.
  • Have compartments to secure items in place and pack heavier items closest to the child’s back.
  • Have a padded back that will provide cushioning against your child’s spine.
  • Have padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps when wearing the backpack to distribute the weight evenly.
  • The bottom of the backpack should rest in the curve of the back and be no more than four inches below your child’s waist.

“Make sure your child’s backpack is adjusted and worn correctly and only necessary items are inside to prevent back strain and long-term effects on posture and the developing spine,” said Carie Crabb, senior director of HCDE School-Based Therapy Services.

HCDE’s therapy specialists work with students in school districts and charter schools throughout greater Harris County. Specialists include physical therapists and assistants, occupational therapists and assistants, and music therapists.

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