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Heavy school bags injurious for kids: HMC

Heavy school bags injurious for kids: HMC


Catherine W Gichuki
DOHA
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is receiving more young patients with complaints of back pain as they lug heavy bags to school, according to a health consultant.
"More young children are coming to us complaining of back pain. And it is more common today than it was before. Children as young as 13 or 14 years old come to us with back, neck or shoulder pains," HMC Associate Consultant of Orthopaedic and Spine Surgery Dr Omar Alnori said on Tuesday.
"I can say that more than 40 percent of the children come to us with complaints of joint pains. They are referred to us either from the health centres or from paediatricians," he said, adding that the weight of the school bag should not exceed 10 to 15 percent of the child's weight."Parents should buy the bag made from light-weight materials," he added.
The height of the bag should be from shoulder to the waistline."It should not go below that. Otherwise, it will pull the child's back and make it hunch forward," he said.
Dr Alnori said it is not a must for a bag to have waist or chest straps to give extra support.
"When putting the strap on both shoulders, the straps should be tight and not hang below the waist."
He said parents should have a lot of considerations while purchasing school bags for their children. Trolley bags could be safer for back, neck and shoulders, although many schools don't allow them because the bag could cause the child to trip and fall easily and is considered unsafe in the bus or at school, he added.
Dr Alnori said children should only carry the books they would use on that day and the bag should be well packed. The bag should have multiple compartments so that the weight can be properly distributed.
"The heavier weight should be more towards the trunk and the lighter one away from the trunk of the child," he said, adding that it should also have wide straps on both the shoulders.
"We see children with early degenerative disease, early arthritis in the lower back. These are like 16 or 18 year olds who have this disease which is mostly common among those who are over 45 or 50 years old," he said.
Debunking the myth that improper handling of the back pack cause scoliosis, Dr Alnori said,"It does not cause scoliosis. It happens more in young girls than the boys but doesn't cause scoliosis but can cause functional bending of the back."
The children should participate in sporting activities.
"Parents should encourage their kids to be physically active. We see young patients with joint pains and it's because they are not active. Nowadays, children spend much time with electronic devices and they should spend a lot of time doing physical activities."

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