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Heavy loads of schoolbooks often strain young backs

There are millions of children carrying backpacks to school every day, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has noted that about 26,000 people a year develop injuries as a result of backpacks. A good portion of those are children, about 10,000 between the ages of 5 and 18.

Dr. Wayne Johnson, board certified orthopaedic surgeon at Premier Othopaedics of Lawton, discovered recently that his own children, twins Jasmine and Justin, 16, were carrying just a few too many pounds in their backpacks.

He said he asked his daughter to put her backpacks on the scale and found out she was carrying a little too much weight. When he took his son to the doctor for the flu, he had Justin's backpacks weighed and found they needed to lighten his load a little, also.

Although science has not yet developed a perfect rule, most of the leading professionals say backpacks should weigh about 10-15 percent of the individual's weight, according to Johnson.

"It's been shown that the best backpacks to have are the ones that have 2-inch-wide shoulder straps and widely adjusted on the shoulder, so the shoulder can bear some of the weight," Johnson said. "Then they make these waist straps that if you make that snug around the waist you can distribute some of the weight to the pelvis instead of all of it going to the back."

The Lawton Constitution

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