Backpacks Can Mean Backaches for Back-to-Schoolers

Dr. Joshua Hyman, Orthopedic Surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Offers Tips on Avoiding Injury from an Overstuffed Backpack

Aug 10, 2015

New York

This fall, millions of children will return to school struggling under the weight of an overstuffed backpack. Heavy backpacks can put children at risk of injury, according to Dr. Joshua Hyman, orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

“Parents should inspect their child’s backpack from time to time. They often carry much more than they should with extra shoes, toys, electronic devices and other unnecessary items,” says Dr. Hyman.

“A backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15 percent of the child’s weight, or about seven pounds for a child who weighs 50 pounds. If textbooks are making the bag too heavy, parents should speak with the teacher — sometimes these books can be left at school,” adds Dr. Hyman.

Children should also correctly wear their backpack over both shoulders to spread the weight evenly. Alternatively, they should consider a wheeled backpack.

If the child experiences persistent pain, parents should consult with their pediatrician, who may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the back muscles. Some indicators of trouble include changes in the child’s posture while wearing the backpack, difficulty putting on the backpack, and pain, tingling or red marks.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, located in New York City, offers the best available care in every area of pediatrics — including the most complex neonatal and critical care, and all areas of pediatric subspecialties — in a family-friendly and technologically advanced setting. Building a reputation for more than a century as one of the nation’s premier children’s hospitals, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital is affiliated with the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and is Manhattan’s only hospital dedicated solely to the care of children and one of the largest providers of children’s health services in the tri-state area with a long-standing commitment to its community. It is also a major international referral center, meeting the special needs of children from infancy through adolescence worldwide. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report.