Heavy Backpacks Harmful to Students, Simmons Study Says

Jul 7th, 2015
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Emporia State University
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You see it in every schoolyard in America: the slight hunch forward, the tucking of the hand under the taut strap, the tug and, finally, the struggle to stand up straight. Students who use backpacks to carry heavy textbooks to and from school execute those moves dozens of times a day. Though most are used to the burden, a new study suggests many are doing themselves harm. Fifty-five percent of the Massachusetts children surveyed by researchers at Simmons College typically carry loads heavier than 15 percent of their body weight - the limit recommended by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

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Adapted from Heavy Backpacks Harmful to Students, Simmons Study Says, Boston Globe, February 13, 2001, by Scott Greenberger.Heavy Backpacks Harmful to Students, Simmons Study SaysYou see it in every schoolyard in America: the slight hunch forward, the tucking of the hand under the taut strap, the tug and, finally, the struggle to stand up straight.Students who use backpacks to carry heavy textbooks to and from school execute those moves dozens of times a day. Though most are used to the burden, a new study suggests many are doing themselves harm.Fifty-five percent of the Massachusetts children surveyed by researchers at Simmons College typically carry loads heavier than 15 percent of their body weight - the limit recommended by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.Though the researchers couldn't definitively draw a connection, one-third of the 345 children in grades 5 through 8 surveyed reported back pain that forced them to see a doctor, miss school, or skip athletic activities.The students, who were recruited through Healthnet, a statewide Internet health education program, weighed themselves and their backpacks under the supervision of teachers."If your head is kind of like a turtle in a forward position, that will cause pain and make you more vulnerable to injury," said Shelley Goodgold, associate professor of physical therapy at Simmons. "We know that putting the backpack on will make you more vulnerable."Though a heavy backpack isn't heal

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