PARAMUS, N.J. -- As a parent, you’ve probably received a school supplies shopping list for all the traditional items your child needs before returning for the coming school year. However, it’s just as important to make sure your child is prepared for the new school term from an orthopedic standpoint and to follow several tips to help prevent school-related injury.
- Find the Right Backpack -- Heavy backpacks are a common cause of back pain in children, though they do not cause scoliosis, as some believe. Backpacks should weigh 10 percent or less of the child’s total body weight and have wide, padded straps that are tightened to keep the load closer to the body.
- Schedule a Physical Exam -- An annual physical exam by your pediatrician should be scheduled around the same time every year. This exam includes a scoliosis screening as well as sports clearance if your child will be participating in school athletics. The sports screening can identify any medical or musculoskeletal conditions that need to be addressed before the start of the season and help keep your child safe.
- Stay Safe During Preseason Training -- Most preseason training for school sports begins in August in preparation for the start of the regular season in September. Be sure to perform warm-up and cool down stretches and stay hydrated to reduce the risk of injury. Many injuries such as sprains, strains, and stress fractures, occur during this time of transition from a less active summer to a high level of activity during the school year.
Dr. Roger Widmann is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York.