Is your child lugging heavy backpacks every morning and staggering under its weight? Does it affect the way they walk and add extra pressure on their backs and shoulders? According to an Indian doctor, Dr Garima Anandani, who is a senior spine specialist, the weight of the bag must be less than 10% of the overall body weight of the child. Any weight higher than that can adversely affect the child’s spine health and hinder his growth and development.
According to another doctor, Dr Tabraiz Khan, when school bags are heavier than normal and are ether not carried properly or carried on one shoulder,it can lead to damaged tissues and excessive strain on the back. Repeating this on a daily basis can cause incorrect posture amongst children, permanent structural deformities, muscular tension, and a damaged spine.
While speaking in a program on Samaa TV, Dr Tabraiz had once said:
The pain and physical discomfort resulting from carrying a heavy school bag can also result in stress and lack of attentiveness in a child, affecting their learning in these precious formative years
All Sindh Parents association President Hamoodur Rab Jaffery said that “two years ago more than 300 cases of students suffering from back pain were reported within a month.”
Civil Hospital had urged the government to take an action and help in controlling these cases caused by heavy backpacks.
KP School Bags Act 2019
The KP cabinet has unanimously approved the KP School Bags Act 2019 earlier this month that limits the school bag weight of students.
While praising the implementation of the School Bags Act 2019, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, Dr Mohsin Hayat Safi, said that he has seen a number of students suffering from spine pain in the spineand shoulder due to excessively heavy bags.
He hopes that the KP government will enforce the law all over the province and students suffering from chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain will recover fully.
Education Department KP had submitted the School Bags Act in the provincial cabinet secretariat, in November 2019.
KP’s Education Department has the authority to revoke the registration of educational institutes that do not comply with the law. The provincial government will also establish an independent monitoring cell to make sure schools comply with the law
How can parents play a role
It is imperative that parents invest in backpacks that have wide padded shoulder straps (but not too wide) so that the weight can be distributed evenly rather than digging into shoulders.
Dr Anandani said;
The frame of the backpack should be in proportion to your child’s frame with the straps resting in the middle of the shoulder. Straps should not be so wide that they slip off the shoulders or cut into the neck muscles.
There are some bags that have hip straps as well. Also, it is important that children carry books according to the timetable only. Schools can also build locker systems like in other parts of the world so that children don’t have to carry books to school every day, and only carry the homework related coursebooks. In addition to this, the heaviest items should be placed against the back and distributed evenly.
Parents should also choose lunch boxes and bottles that do not add extra burden to the already heavy bag. If the pain persists for more than 4 to 5 weeks, spine specialists must be consulted.
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