Children First: Backpack safety - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Backpack safety

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As parents stock up on back-to-school supplies for the kids, there's one item doctors urge them to take extra care in picking out.

Some things just don't change very much over the years. Like the dreaded weight of a backpack full of homework.   "I sure thought they were heavy. Always seemed like there were plenty of notebooks and books," said Mary Barrett, mother of three.
 
Doctors says the weight of a few notebooks can have a big affect on your child's spine.
 
"It stresses all the muscles, changes your posture, chronic use will change your spine. If the muscles are injured, they can't do their work properly," said Chiropractor James Schwietert, Rapid City.
 
Barrett worries her children will soon have to carry that burden.   "I have seem them lean way forward, with their backpack to try to counter balance that weight, maybe they drag it behind them because they can't take the weight," said Barrett.
 
Before you send your kids back to school, experts recommend choosing a backpack that will alleviate muscle stress.
 
"Look for strap adjustment, padded shoulders, padded lower back, and use both straps, when you lift, lift with your legs, don't lift with your lower back," said Schwietert.
 
The price difference between the backpack your kids will want, and the one that's best for their back is about $10. A small price, doctors say, to avoid long term back pain.
 
"They're more expensive, but to spend that money now is better than to have them suffer for the rest of their life," said Schwietert.
 
"You can always buy an iron on and do it yourself at home. Iron on and patches will help," said Barrett.
 
For Barrett, keeping her children in top form physically is key to helping them succeed academically.
 
"You only get one body and you need to treat it right , especially as a child, it will carry you into adulthood and impact job you can do when you grow up," said Barrett.

If you have more questions about your child's backpack, Dr. Schwietert's office will have a free scoliosis screening and back pack safety screening from August 20th to the 24th.

For more information visit www.LiveWellSouthDakota.com

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