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EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL AND REHABILITATION MEDICINE

A Journal on Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation after Pathological Events


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (SIMFER), European Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ESPRM), European Union of Medical Specialists - Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Section (UEMS-PRM), Mediterranean Forum of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (MFPRM), Hellenic Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (EEFIAP)
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Europa Medicophysica 2004 March;40(1):15-21

language: English

Backpacks and spinal disorders in school children

Cardon G., Balagué F.

1 Department of Movement ­and Sports Sciences Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
2 Department of Rheumatology Physical Medicine ­and Rehabilitation Cantonal Hospital, Fribourg, Switzerland


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The inter­est on back­packs, par­tic­u­lar­ly ­with ­regard to ­their poten­tial unfa­vour­able ­effect on spi­nal dis­or­ders in ­school chil­dren, ­has dra­mat­i­cal­ly ­increased dur­ing ­the ­last ­years. The ­aim of ­the ­present ­study ­was to ­look crit­i­cal­ly at ­the ­recent pub­li­ca­tions ­and to qual­i­fy ­some “com­mon ­sense-­based ­rules”. In ­recent stud­ies no or ­weak asso­ci­a­tions ­between spi­nal dis­or­ders in chil­dren ­and back­pack ­use ­could be iden­ti­fied, ­which is relat­ed to ­the meth­o­dol­o­gy of ­the stud­ies. From review­ing ­the bio­me­chan­i­cal ­and phys­io­log­i­cal ­effects of back­pack ­use, it ­was con­clud­ed ­that ­there is evi­dence ­that car­ry­ing a ­heavy back­pack ­results in ­trunk for­ward ­lean ­and ­that ­there ­are indi­ca­tions ­that back­pack ­use ­can ­increase meta­bol­ic ­cost ­and ­alter ­gait kinet­ics in young­sters. However ­there is no evi­dence ­that pos­tu­ral, meta­bol­ic or kinet­ic adap­ta­tions to back­pack ­use, ­cause ­back dis­or­ders at ­young ­age. Spinal forc­es ­based on ­the ­above men­tioned pos­tu­ral respons­es ­can be pre­sumed. However, ­the ­amount of ­work rep­re­sent­ed by ­the ­school back­packs ­should be com­pared ­with ­the phys­i­cal activ­ities per­formed by ­the ­same young­sters dur­ing ­their lei­sure ­time ­and is prob­ably ­not as dan­ger­ous as ­claimed in ­some ­media. Therefore ­the ­uproar in med­i­cal ­and edu­ca­tion­al soci­eties ­and in ­the ­media, to sen­si­tize chil­dren, par­ents ­and edu­ca­tors, ­with ­weight ­cut-­off lim­i­ta­tions ­and oth­er back­pack ­use safe­ty guide­lines ­can ­not be jus­ti­fied ­and over­med­i­cal­iz­ing ­this ­issue ­should be avoid­ed.

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