National Physical Therapy Month a Good Time to Check Backpack Safety
10/06/2008

STEPHENVILLE, 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 child'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 Shane Wall, a physical therapist and director of rehabilitation services for Harris Methodist Erath County 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 10 percent to 15 percent or less 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 www.aaos.org or www.apta.org.

About Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital
Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital, soon to be Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville, is a 98-bed acute care, full-service facility serving Erath and surrounding counties since 1926. The hospital's services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, women and infant care, advanced diagnostic imaging, inpatient and outpatient physical therapy and wound care. Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital has been recognized as a Nurse-Friendly Hospital and a Level IV Trauma Center. For more information, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS, or visit www.texashealth.org/hmec.

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 www.texashealth.org.