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Heavy packs putting strain on students' backs

Leigh Ann Laube • Jan 22, 2011 at 1:02 AM

Drew Doran, a freshman at Dobyns-Bennett High School, doesn’t use a locker, instead choosing to carry his belongings on his back all day.

Doran weighs 164 pounds; his backpack weighs 31 pounds. On this day, he isn’t even carrying the extra nylon bag he needs to hold gym shoes and clothes for his advanced sports class.

“It’s heavy,” he said of the pack.

Not only does the backpack cause him occasional back pain, it’s simply hard to lift, he said.

A study published in the January 2010 issue of the journal Spine confirms what kids are complaining about — heavy backpacks are causing greater spinal strain and increased back pain.

In the first study to use imaging techniques to see how backpacks affect children’s spines, researchers conducted upright MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans on the lumbar spines of eight school children as they first wore an empty backpack, then graduated to increasingly heavier backpacks of 9, 18 and 26 pounds.Read the expanded version of this report in the print edition or the enhanced electronic version of the Kingsport Times-News.

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