With pupils getting ready to return to school, a study by Helena Webb reveals that back pain in children is on the increase; one of the main reasons – heavy school bags.
In Wales’ first such informal research study, the ABM paediatric physio surveyed several schools across the Neath Port Talbot area and studied a sample of children aged from eight to 15.
Across Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Bridgend the percentage of paediatric referrals to physiotherapy for back and neck pain have increased from 2.1% during September 2011 peaking at 4.5% in March 2012 and are likely remain around at 3.5-3.9%.
Helena’s study found that child back pain is on the increase. She said: “While chatting to patients, it has become apparent that carrying heavy bags around school in the absence of lockers, and sitting on uncomfortable school furniture are huge contributing factors to their daily back pain.
“We really need to educate parents, teachers and children about the safe weight for school bags, the correct way of carrying bags and the importance of sitting on appropriate furniture in the classroom.
“Looking after your back while you’re young can help prevent back problems arising in adulthood. Adolescent back pain sufferers are four times more likely to experience back pain as an adult.”
Helena has been invited to speak to a group of primary and secondary school teachers this autumn. She hopes to use the information from the study to develop a physio-led healthy back education scheme which could be taken into schools across the ABM area.
She said: “Health eating and oral hygiene teaching is established on the health education curriculum in schools. Implementing back care teaching sessions into the school timetable will help us reduce the risk of the current generation of children becoming adults who live with back pain.”
Photo School children with their bags