Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Heavy school bags: The Orthopedic Evil

What could be the most painful thing for our children while going to school? Is it waking up early? Changing clothes? Going out? Definitely no!! What else but carrying kilograms in school bags all the way to school. Every morning, we see children carrying load on their backs more than their predecessors used to do, and this goes on from one generation to another. In due course, our children complain problems with back, neck, shoulders and general health that our doctors and parents worry about. Certainly, the problem of heavy bag packs has become a worldwide issue.

This is where Health questions the Education. Our children, especially of lower grades, carry school bags of 15-20% of their weight which can be a source of ‘chronic, low-level trauma’, and can also cause chronic shoulder, neck and back pain, while additional pressure on the spine can also cause long-term damage. Sympathy goes to the children who walk away to the school. On the other hand, children who have school vans are also supposed to carry bags to their classes. Children who carry one-shoulder bag are more likely to suffer. A medical study has indicated deviation to the side and/or backwards of children’s who carry load on their back named school bags, and overtime this deviation becomes evident even the child is not carrying it. Thus, these children acquire education against their health.

Speaking on this issue, Prof. M. A. Arif, Secretary General, Pakistan Pediatric Association considers heavy school bags the reason of numerous orthopedic troubles. He says that children in these cases may face Slip disk problem, muscle problem Myositis as well as shoulder and back problem Arthritis. “Children who carry heavy bags bent forward when walking which is a wrong posture and creates medical troubles for long-term. They also complain general tiredness throughout the day.” He adds

What do educationists say in this regard?

In contrast, Mrs. Sadia Kamran, a housewife complains that her daughter is facing shoulder and back ache and feels uneasy and tired for whole day. School management should find permanent solution for that.

The question that instantly appears is the about the solution or alternate. Now whose responsibility is that? Of course ours: the educationists, parents and the society. Let’s look at some fine suggestions:

Avoid one-shoulder school bags; they disturb the balance between two sides that develops poor posture later. Use both straps of the bag; it distributes the weight equally across the body.

For parents: On daily basis, load the bag according to the time table.

Schools arrange lockers for students where they keep extra text books, copies and sports material instead of carrying them everyday in school bags.

Copies of children to be kept at school while homework to be submitted on separate sheets.

Instead of all periods everyday, schools can keep consecutive classes in a day that may reduce the load in school bags for e.g. English, Urdu, Science, Mathematics and Arts is rescheduled to consecutive English, Urdu on one day and Science, Mathematics and Arts on another.

Concluding the issue, we, the society should realize that these little children cannot help themselves until we bring them a solution. Thus, we are supposed to consider this issue on priority basis or else our generations would be suffering. Let’s think about our children this time, enough of politics!!!

By Jibran T. Siddiqui