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Backpack bonanza

Ruth Moon
Kristin AndersonOnce backpack logistics are solved, the only question left is fashion. Buy a Batman backpack or Iron Man? Print, or solid color? That is its own can of worms.
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August is upon us, which means summer is almost over, fall is almost here and school is starting. It’s time to break out the summer reading lists, school supply lists … and backpacks.

The backpack is a strange contraption ” a combination social status symbol and carryall. Either it is chosen with care to provide maximum carry space and minimum back trouble ” hence labeling its carrier as a nerd for the year ” or it is a last-minute purchase destined to bring a long-term curse in the form of back pain on the hapless user. And to add to the backpack drama, anyone who wears theirs properly ” with both shoulder straps on and cinched up on the back ” is automatically labeled a nerd.

The dilemma, then, is to either accept the nerd label, or break the backpack rules. In ninth or 10th grade, when back pain is in the distant future and peer ostracism is a present fact, the better choice seems pretty obvious.

Unfortunately, the obvious choice ” breaking the rules ” could get the wearer in a lot of trouble.

Joel Dekanich, a local chiropractor, said the number of children he sees with back pain complaints is increasing annually, and is up substantially from 10 years ago, although he does not have exact figures.

“One of our questions will always be ‘hey, what does your backpack look like, do you carry it with both straps on, is it too big, does it fit you comfortably?'” he said. And rule breaking is the norm: “It’s such an epidemic that no one follows the rules.”

That rule breaking will cost you. A typical trip to Dekanich’s chiropractic group for a checkup is $89 without insurance, not to mention the weeks, months or years of back pain that may follow.

Dekanich isn’t alone in noticing the growing trend of back pain in youngsters; according to the Boston Children’s Hospital, backpack-related injuries include stress fractures in the spine, growth cartilage inflammation and posture problems.


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