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Improper Backpack Use Can Lead to Muscle Strains, Spasms, Back Problems

CLEBURNE, Texas — With school now in full swing and the homework piling up, parents should use National Physical Therapy Month to check to make sure their children’s backpack isn’t causing harm.

“Going to school shouldn’t cause injury to children, but improper backpack usage can contribute to serious muscle strains and spasms,” said Zina Fritz, an occupational therapist at Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital. “Simple steps can be taken to remove some of the danger of carrying a full backpack and reduce children’s risk of future back problems."

The American Physical Therapy Association has taken some of the guesswork out of judging the safety of backpacks. They recommend that students:

  • Wear both straps to better distribute the weight of the backpack;
  • Wear the backpack evenly in the middle of the back and allow free movement of arms with the backpack not extending below the low back; and
  • Lighten the load to no more than 15 percent of the child’s weight. Heaviest items should be closest to the back.

Parents can help reduce the risk of serious medical problems by encouraging their child to talk about pain or discomfort and not ignoring any complains of back pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

For more information on backpack fit, log on to or

About Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital
Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital, soon to be Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital's services include surgery, women and infant services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care. Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital has been recently recognized for the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement award from TMF, the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award and the 2007 Premier Award for Quality for Heart Failure. For more information, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS, or visit

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR’s system of 13 hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System, and a medical research organization. THR is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit

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