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Backpack Safety Starting to Pay Off

A report in a September 7, 2004 release from "Business Wire" states that the efforts to educate the public about backpack safety have begun to show positive results. For several years the chiropractic profession, through the major associations as well as independent organizations, has been on a mission to educate the public about the dangers of improper backpack usage in young spines.

According to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, the number of emergency room visits related to backpack injuries is down from 7,860 to 7,649 over a one year period. Prior to this reduction, for the previous six years, reports of such emergency room visits were up each year, having increased 360 percent since 1996.

Dr. Marvin Arnsdorff of Chiropractic USA and co-founder of Backpack Safety America / International thinks that this is good news and bad news. He states, "For the first time since these numbers have been reported, we see that parents, teachers, students and health care professionals are becoming aware of the issue and taking steps to address it." He continued, "The bad news is that the numbers are still needlessly high and the pain and suffering caused by overloaded and improperly worn backpacks is easily preventable."

"Students, parents and educators should understand the risks involved in using backpacks," says Dr. Arnsdorff. "We're committed to the health and safety of these children, so we help raise awareness through our work with schools and the community."

Dr. Arnsdorff, along with thousands of Chiropractors and other health professions have joined together to promote backpack health and safety and have issued the following safety tips from Backpack Safety America / International:

  • Choose right: Bring a friend to help you measure your backpack properly. The proper size backpack is 75 percent of the length of your back, approximately the space between the shoulder blades and waist.
  • Pack right: The maximum weight of the loaded backpack should not exceed 15 percent of your body weight. Pack only what you need for the day. Carry a book or two by hand to relieve the load if necessary. If the backpack forces the wearer to lean forward to carry, it's overloaded.
  • Do not swing your backpack. It could hurt you and it is dangerous to those around you.
  • Make sure that pens, pencils and other sharp objects are stored in a safe spot so they don't poke through and injure you or someone else.
  • When lifting you backpack follow these procedures, 1. Face the pack. 2. Bend at the knees. 3. Using both hands, check the weight of the pack. 4. Lift with your legs. 5. Apply one shoulder strap at a time. Avoid slinging the pack onto your back.

For more information on backpack safety and how you can bring a program to your school or school district, visit or contact Backpack Safety America / International at 1 800 672-4277 or send an e-mail message to [email protected] .