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Check your child's backpack

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Education

Heavy backpacks can cause severe health problems like chronic shoulder, neck and back pain. In few cases they can also be a cause of low-level trauma in the child. It is therefore very important that you do not ignore the childs complaints about back or shoulder pain as childish excuses. They should be treated as danger signals, and your child should be examined by a physician. 
 
Some children do not understand the cause of the pain and dismiss it as minor an irrelevant. However, you can find out if your child is suffering with back related problems if he walks sideways to adjust the weight and if he complains of numbness and tingling in his arms or hands.
 
If the complaints are persistent then you should check the weight of the bag. It should not weigh more than 20 percent of the childs body weight. If it does, then you need to find ways to lighten your childs load.
 
Most schools provide lockers to students to keep their knick knacks. Encourage your child to make full use of the locker allotted to him. If this system is restricted to the higher classes alone then request the school authorities to provide a locker to your child as a special case. Schools may not be keen since lockers are expensive. You can support your request by listing the advantages as well. 
 
You can even consider having two sets of books. You can use one set for school alone and the other set can be used at home. In this way the load would be drastically reduced and it wouldnt be a burden carrying it to and fro daily. This method is expensive but definitely worth it.
 
Ensure that your child carries only the required books and notebooks to school everyday. Paste a huge chart of the school timetable in his room. At least he would not mix up his books for class. While buying a backpack, ensure that it is ergonomically designed and comfortable to wear. It should be wide and should have padded shoulder straps. It would be ideal if a waist belt was also attached to the backpack. Ask your child to use both the shoulder straps while carrying the bag as it can divide the load equally.
 
Single strap bags slung on one shoulder should be avoided. Though fashionable, they are uncomfortable and can cause serious back problems. An alternative would be to consider the use of a backpack with wheels. It can be dragged along on smooth floors, and save the child the trauma of lugging it long distances.
              
There are chances that the complaint of the back pain may be due to an ailment.  It is important to check with a pediatrician if your child constantly complains of back pain. He may suffer from any of the following ailments: spondylolytis, spondylolisthesis, disk herniation, or diskitis. It could be due to an injury caused while playing or due to a bad accident at an early age. Tumors can also be the cause of severe back pain. Medical supervision is a must in these cases.