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Backpack Safety

More than 40 million students carry backpacks in America today. Many of these same students carry their backpacks overloaded or fit improperly resulting in a variety of injuries including neck pain, muscle spasms, tingling hands, headaches and lower back pain. This very pain may result in the increasing possibility of damage on posture and development of the spine. In 2003 the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported nearly 21,000 children were seen in emergency rooms for backpack related injuries.

As parents there are a number of important issues you need to know in order to prevent backpack injury and promote spinal health. When choosing a new backpack, it’s recommended you select ergonomically designed features that enhance safety and comfort. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 15-20 percent of their own body weight.

7 Tips on Choosing the Best Backpack for your Child:

Healthy vs Unhealthy Backpack Posture
  • A padded back will minimize direct pressure on the back.
  • Get wide padded shoulder straps that will not hinder circulation to the arms (that may cause numbness and tingling)
  • Waist and chest belts help transfer some weight from the back and shoulders to the trunk and pelvis.
  • Multiple compartments help to better distribute the weight in the backpack.
  • Reflective material enhances visibility in early mornings or at night.
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Correct Size: selection of the pack is important as packs come in different sizes for different aged children

Loading the Backpack: Follow these simple rules:

  • 15 Percent Maximum Weight: This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  • Arrange books and materials securely.
  • Pack only necessary items that you will need for the school day.
  • If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels.

Wearing the Backpack:

  • Wear both straps: By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well-aligned symmetrical posture is promoted.
  • Tighten the straps: Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back while still allowing the pack to be put on and taken off easily. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Put on and remove backpacks carefully. Keep the trunk of your body stable and avoid excessive twisting.
  • Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles. Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back. It should rest evenly in the middle of the back near the child’s center of gravity, and should not extend below the belt for than a couple of inches.
  • Lift properly using your legs and both hands applying one strap and then the other.

Encourage activity:

Children who are active tend to have better muscle flexibility and strength, which makes it easier to carry a backpack.
Once you have taken the proper steps in choosing, packing and wearing the backpack the ongoing assessment of your effort begins. It is extremely important to encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack. Don’t ignore any back pain. If necessary, talk to your child and teachers to ensure that what your child is hauling back and forth to school is truly what is necessary. It may also be necessary to explain to your child that the schedule usually allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day. Thus, giving them time to unload and reload the necessary books and supplies. If all else fails, one may always consider buying a second set of textbooks for your student to keep at home. Although this may seem unrealistic, it is a very simple solution for a child with significant pain.

Posture:

We know that posture is impacted by a combination of factors including good muscle control, strength and flexibility. So, involve your children whenever possible in activities that promote good posture. Get your child moving: swimming, dance, karate, gymnastics, skating, etc. Becoming involved with sports activities helps develop muscular skills as well as self-confidence which is often a strong influence in posture.

Seating:

Seating is often a significant factor leading to slouching. Make sure your child sits in an appropriately sized child-size chair, or a pneumatically adjustable chair. Remember the “Rule of 90s”: Ears directly over the tips of your shoulders, hips flexed to 90 degrees, knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Be sure the computer screen is directly in front of your face. Also, try to maintain a slight arch in your back by rolling your hips slightly forward. Feel free to assist this by placing a towel roll in the arched area. You can also try having your child sit on a physioball when completing homework or working on the computer. The instability of the ball forces core stabilization and good postural maintenance.

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic Care can help prevent your child from suffering from an injury. Chiropractic Care will ensure that your child’s spinal column is growing in alignment and is in good health. If your child suffers from pain, schedule an appointment today, and we can get him/her on the path to wellness!

Kids Care Part 2

Last week, we discussed how Chiropractic Care can help children with colic or asthma. Today, we want to continue this topic about kids with how Chiropractic Care can help with Ear Infections and Bed Wetting.

Ear Infections: 

Almost half of all children will suffer from at least one middle ear infection (otitis media) before they’re a year old, and two-thirds of them will have had at least one episode by age three. The symptoms of otits media include ear pain, fever, and irritability. If you look into the ear of a child who has otitis media, you will be able to see a buildup of fluid behind the ear drum, and the inside of the ear will appear inflamed. Otitis media is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection and frequently results from another illness such as a cold. For many children, it can become a chronic problem, requiring treatment year after year, and putting the child at risk of permanent hearing damage and associated speech and developmental problems.

Otitis media commonly emerges when there is improper drainage of the lymph system in the neck, or when the muscle that is supposed to keep bacteria or viruses from entering the eustacean tubes (the tubes in the back of the throat that lead to the inner ear) doesn’t work correctly. While both of these things can happen in adults, it usually does not result in an ear infection for two reasons: First, the shape and the length of the eustacean tubes are different in adults, allowing easier drainage and making it more difficult for a bacteria to invade. Second, adults tend to spend more time upright than young children do, which also encourages better drainage and decreases risk of infection.

In either case, the underlying root cause of otitis media is usually a mechanical problem. There is either a reduced or blocked drainage of the lymph vessels in the neck lymphatic chains that causes a build up of fluid in the inner ear, or a loss of normal function of the small muscle at the opening of the eustacean tube in the throat that allows bacteria and viruses from the mouth to enter the inner ear. Instead of treatment that tries to kill the bacteria or virus, a more natural approach would be to restore normal drainage of the ears and neck lymphatics. This is most effectively done through chiropractic.

Unfortunately, the current treatment of choice for medical doctors is to prescribe oral antibiotics, usually amoxicillin, which can be helpful to get rid of a bacterial infection. But, according to many research studies, antibiotics are often not much more effective than the body’s own immune system. And repeated doses of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant bacteria.

Most people have heard about the common practice of placing ‘tubes in the ears’ to relieve the pressure, and therefore pain, of otitis media. During this surgical procedure, a small opening is made in the eardrum and a small tube is placed in the opening. This opening helps to relieve the pressure in the ear and prevents fluid buildup. After a couple of months, the body pushes the tube out and the hole closes. Although the treatment is often effective, it does not address the underlying cause of the infection, which is the abnormal mechanical functioning of the lymphatics, muscles and nerves.

If your child experiences recurrent ear infections, it is important that you talk to your chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic are licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. By helping to restore the normal function of the tissues of the neck, otitis media can usually be significantly reduced or completely eliminated in most children, without the use of antibiotics and surgery.

Bed-Wetting:

Bedwetting is stressful for everyone involved. Lack of bladder control can cause embarrassment, shame, and interfere with normal social development. All of the causes of bed-wetting are not fully understood. There are children whose bladders are underdeveloped for their age and who have difficulty recognizing when their bladder is full. This is much more common in children under four years of age.

If a child, who had been dry at night for a period of time – weeks or months – suddenly starts bed-wetting again, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Most often this happens when some form of stress is in the child’s life: a new baby in the home, moving to a new neighborhood, or a divorce. Bedwetting may also be a sign of physical or sexual abuse or some other disease process. If your child wets the bed after having been dry at night in the past, it is important that they be seen by a doctor. The bed-wetting may be a sign that stress or a disease is causing the problem.

Chiropractic can help by removing any irritation that may be affecting the nerves that control bladder function. These nerves exit an area of the spine called the Sacrum. In adults, the sacrum is one large fused bone that is very resistant to injury. However, during childhood, the sacrum is separated into five individual segments. If these segments become misaligned, due to a fall or other type of trauma, they can compromise the nerves that are responsible for bladder function. While chiropractic is not typically a treatment for bedwetting, countless children have been helped by being adjusted. In fact, a number of clinical research studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can help many children suffering from bedwetting. Contact us today!

Kids Care

Everyone is the perfect candidate for Chiropractic Care…even babies and kids! Many adults think that chiropractic care is used only for injuries, while the truth is that chiropractic care is most effective when used all throughout life as a preventative tool against injury and to keep yourself healthy.

Birth can be traumatic on the spine, and if you think about any kids you know, they are constantly falling and getting hurt. That’s just the way kids are. Everything kids do from learning to crawl and walk to learning how to ride a bike can also be traumatic on the spinal column. Getting your child in for regular adjustments is a very effective tool to ensure they are healthy and that their spinal column is functioning well.

Aside from the normal wear and tear kids put on their bodies, many kids go through some other difficulties as well. A few include colic, asthma, ear infections and bed-wetting. Did you know Chiropractic Care can also help your child in these areas?

Colic

Colic is a condition in young infants characterized by an unusual amount of crying. When they cry, they may draw their arms and legs toward their bodies as though they are in pain and may even turn bright red. Colic usually appears between the 3rd and 6th week after birth and is typically resolved by the time they are 3 months old. Although no one is certain what causes colic, there are a number of things that likely contribute, such as an immature and irritated nervous system, food sensitivities and gastrointestinal upset.

The theory that an irritated spine may contribute to colic is supported by the frequent improvement in symptoms with gentle chiropractic adjustments. Because the birthing process is very stressful on the neck of a newborn, it is very common for there to be several subluxations in the neck and back that can irritate the tiny and delicate nervous system. It has also been observed that babies with colic seem to need more attention and are more sensitive to the things around them than other babies – again indicating that there are some neurological differences. Gentle chiropractic adjustments can improve symptoms of colic in newborns.

A potential dietary contributor to colic is the mother’s diet while breastfeeding. Women who breast feed should stay away from spicy foods, alcohol and tobacco, as well as to avoid  eating too much of any one particular food. A semi-bland, high-protein diet that excludes dairy is probably best – at least during the first three or four months of breastfeeding.

If your baby suffers from colic, there are a few things that you can do to help:

  • Seek regular chiropractic care, especially during the first four months.
  • Place a warm water bottle on your baby’s stomach.
  • Rock your baby in a rocking chair or cradle.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Gently rub your baby’s stomach.
  • Go for a drive with your baby in the car seat.
  • Feed your baby more often with less food at each feeding.
  • If you feed your baby formula, avoid soy or dairy-based formulas.

Asthma:

Allergies are often treated with chiropractic care. Many allergic and asthmatic reactions are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system and/or respiratory system. Researchers have found that the immune and respiratory systems depend on normal communication from the brain and spinal cord to control and coordinate their functions properly.

Therefore, if your neck is misaligned, it could cause an imbalance in your nervous system function. This upper cervical spinal joint irritation could possibly produce or exaggerate asthmatic and allergic symptoms. For example; many asthma and allergy sufferers experienced traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents, or falls which could have injured their upper cervical spines. The good news is that we can perform an upper cervical examination to determine if chiropractic care can reduce your allergic and asthmatic reactions. Schedule an appointment today!

Next week we will have another blog discussing how Chiropractic Care can help with Ear Infections and Bed wetting. If your child has issues with either of these problems, stay tuned!!