Back to School: Backpacks

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about getting ready to go back to school. When you’re buying school supplies, think about the loads your kids will be carrying in their backpacks.

That bulging backpack loaded with books and homework could be causing damage. A condition called Rucksack Paralysis, caused by strain on the shoulders and arms from heavy packs, leads to tingling and pain in the hands and arms.

Dr. Kevin Gill, co-director of the Spine Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says if a child is slouching or straining, the backpack is too heavy. Kids should carry only things that are absolutely essential in their packs instead of letting papers and books pile up, and they shouldn’t carry backpacks slung over one shoulder. Instead, use both straps and the waistband to help distribute the load. If you can’t lighten the load, consider using a rolling backpack or luggage cart.

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August 2011

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