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Backpack Awareness

By Claire Baker, Staff Writer

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Wearing a heavy backpack can literally be a pain in the back.

A student’s backpack should only weight 10 percent of a person’s body weight, according to Owens professor and Backpack Awareness Day event coordinator Sarah Heldmann.

To help students and faculty learn the proper way to pack and wear backpacks, the Occupational Therapy Association (OTA) sponsored the event at College Hall on Sept. 27. OTA members also weighed backpacks to determine the percentage of the

Sarah Heldmann weighs this backpack, determining it’s weight compared to body weight.

backpack compared to body weight.

Heldmann advised that one way to prevent backpack problems is to bend down to pick your backpack. She said a lot of students will sling one strap over the shoulder and slouch, which causes injury to the shoulder and spine.

She stressed that it’s important to show students from a young age how to properly pack their backpack, because it decreases the risk of injury.

“Pack the heavier items towards the back, wear both straps and stand up more,” added OTA member Todd Sandford. “You should lift with your knees. Same is true while lifting anything heavy.”

According to an information board at the event, one study showed that in 2013, 22,200 injuries varying from strains to sprains to dislocations and fractures happened because of how much the backpack weighed and how the student wore it.

Owens has an Occupational Therapy Assistant program, where students learn to help facilitate maximum life satisfaction and independent functioning for people of all ages, and can treat individuals with possible mental, physical, emotional or developmental disabilities.

Who knew there was so much that goes into packing your backpack correctly? I know mine is not the proper weight. It weights 23 pounds, and, according to my weight, should only weight 13 pounds.

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