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Europa Medicophysica 2004 March;40(1):15-21

Copyright © 2004 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

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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