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Backpack Safety



Backpack Safety
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.67

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ergonomically, reflective, circulation, discomfort, difficulty, medication, stylish, effective, theory, multiple, strengthen, extremely, disks, injury, arching, websites


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Backpack Safety
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Backpacks can be extremely useful to students. They can be a convenient way to carry books. They keep materials close at hand. They are a practical organizational tool at school.
 
2     Lately there's been a lot of discussion about backpack use and safety. In fact, in 2003, over 20,000 people were treated at the hospital or doctors' offices for injuries connected to backpacks - bruises, sprains, and fractures, too. The reality is that backpacks themselves don't hurt people, but using them the wrong way does.
 
3     In theory, the backpack is an effective way to carry things back and forth to school. The strongest muscles in the body are the back and the abdominal muscles. The spine has thirty-three bones or vertebrae. Between them are disks which absorb some shock. They should be able to support the weight of the backpack and its contents. When used improperly, though, or when the weight is too much for the individual, pain and injury can result. Signs that there is a problem with the use of the backpack are a change in posture, difficulty getting the backpack off and on, pain, tingling, numbness, or red marks.
 
4     What are some ways that the improper use of backpacks can create a problem? First, if you carry too much, the backpack might pull you back. You might bend in an awkward way by bending forward at the hips or arching the back. This compresses the spine unnaturally. If the weight hurts, you might lean forward and round your shoulders. Again, unnaturally, the upper back may curve causing pain in the shoulder, neck, or back. This can also cause poor posture. Some people like to carry their backpacks on one shoulder. This can strain the shoulders and neck. Straps that dig into the shoulder can hurt the circulation and the nerves, causing tingling, numbness, and weakness. Any of these symptoms that cause so much pain that activities change, or medication is needed, or sleep patterns are bothered need to be looked into.
 
5     Other backpack injuries include those that hurt other people. Sometimes we don't think of that. Sometimes these injuries are accidents; sometimes they are on purpose. In school or at home, people can trip on backpacks. If someone swings a backpack at another, it can really hurt because it is so heavy. People sometimes fall on others when carrying their backpacks because they get off balance. Sometimes, a child hits another child when he swings the backpack on and off and doesn't pay attention to the blind spot.

Paragraphs 6 to 11:
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