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Middle School Students Told to “Lighten the Load”

10/12/2007 —

DuBois – Penn State DuBois faculty say nearly every student at any level has one, and many don’t know the proper way to load and carry them.  Backpacks, if overloaded or not carried correctly can cause a lifetime of back problems and other ailments, according to Occupational Therapy Assistant Students at Penn State DuBois. 

Last week OTA Students visited DuBois Area Middle School to give Backpack Awareness Demonstrations.  They taught middle school students healthy ways to carry their bags, and stressed the importance of lightening the load.

“Knowing how to adjust your backpack so that it’s worn properly, and knowing how much weight to carry is very important,” said Occupational Therapy Club President, Lisa Pompeii.  “What they do now will affect them when they’re older,” Pompeii continued, noting that the weight of a backpack should never exceed 15 percent of the wearer’s body weight.  For example, a 100 pound middle school student should never carry more than 15 pounds on their back.   

Sixth grade students brought their own backpacks to their health class where they were inspected by Penn State DuBois OTA Students.  Straps were adjusted to fit each individual, and each pack was weighed.  Most sixth graders were found to be in compliance with the 15 pound rule. 

When Health Teacher, Candi Fullerton asked the class if they knew anyone who suffered from back problems, most hands went up.  Fullerton said this illustrates the importance of teaching children good habits for a healthy spine early in life.  Fullerton said the lessons taught by Penn State DuBois Students will likely stick with the sixth graders.

“I think when people from Penn State come to class, the students listen very clearly.  They love the hands-on learning,” she said.

For more information on Backpack Awareness, or other Occupational Therapy topics, contact the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Department at (814) 375-4748.   

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