Metrolife: Kids back to school with back woes

Metrolife: Kids back to school with back woes

Heavy school bags alter the posture of the child and impact long-term health, doctors say. DH Photo by B H Shivakumar

Orthopedics in the city are witnessing an increase in the number of children seeking help for spine and neck-related complaints.

The children are mostly between nine and 16, and doctors attribute the problems to heavy school bags. Schools have just reopened, and few schools are taking the initiative to reduce the children’s load.

Heavy school bags alter the posture of the child and impact long-term health.

The side effects of carrying heavy school bags start showing when the children grow up and enter their 20s. By the time they are 30, many have full-fledged spinal problems.

Dr Thomas Chandy, director and chief of Orthopaedics at Hosmat, says, “Children who carry heavy bags are likely to have neck, back and shoulder pain, besides developing postural problems.”

They may end up with kyphosis, a medical term for a hunchback, he warns.

“The effect on children is seen only after a few years,” says Dr Chandy.

The neck hurts badly when children sling the strap of their school bags on their forehead. “If this habit continues, it may lead to spondylitis in the early 20s and 30s. The immediate effect is a cervical sprain that can lead to a slipped disk,” he warns.

When the nerves in the neck are stressed, they could cause weakness of the hands. Heavy school bags can also mentally stress children out, says Dr Roshan Jain, senior consultant psychiatrist, Apollo Hospitals. “Lever folders must replace books. Children are already under pressure to perform and heavy bags further burden the child,” he says.

Whether a child is able to bear the weight depends on the fitness of the child. This could also emotionally stress children out, he warns.

CMR National Public School and Ekya School are among the those trying to reduce the burden on children.

Tristha Ramamurthy, founder Ekya Schools, says, “We provide students with shelves in their classes to keep their books. This ensures that they don’t have to carry all their books every day.”

Teachers guide students on which books they must leave at school and which ones to take home.

She says the school uses the technology platform to share learning resources online. “Students comfortably use this for their review and preparation at home,” she adds.

Why it’s bad

School bags cause a variety of problems

Neck and back pain

Postural problems

Slipped disc