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House Call: Backpack Safety

With kids preparing to go back to school, it is important to learn proper backpack safety to protect your children’s posture and prevent injury. 

The first safety tip physical therapists emphasize is to always wear both straps.  Wearing one strap causes one side of the body to bear the entire weight of the backpack. By wearing both shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed and will promote better body posture. 

More: PDF: Backpack Safety Info Sheet

It is also important to adjust the straps properly.  Position your child’s backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles, allowing it to rest evenly and the child to easily put on and remove the pack. 

Another important safety measure is to lighten the load in the backpack whenever possible.  The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of the child’s body weight.

Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back and only carry items that are required for the day. 

If your back-to-school shopping includes a new backpack this year, choose one that has features such as a padded back, hip and chest belts, multiple compartments, compressions straps and reflective material. 

These added safety and comfort features help to better distribute the weight of the pack and reduce pressure on the child’s back. 

The exceptional team of physical therapists and related healthcare providers at Cone Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers are dedicated to educating families and individuals in the community about proper safety and injury prevention techniques, as well as helping patients regain function after injury, surgery or other health traumas.

Spokesperson Background:

Carrie Sawulski is a physical therapist at Cone Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Center on Church Street.  Carrie has also earned a specialty designation as a pediatric clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association.  She received a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy from Ohio State University in 1997.


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