AOTA’s National School Backpack Awareness Day

Thumbs up for school

Over 79 million students across the US carry backpacks. With the fall semester in full swing children are once again carrying heavy loads and filling their backpacks with homework and school supplies. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, over half of students that carry backpacks are wearing them incorrectly or carrying backpacks over the recommended weight. These heavy loads carried by students can cause lower back pain that can persist through adulthood. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid the pain and injury of an improperly worn backpack:

  • The weight of the backpack should be no more than 10% of your child’s weight.
  • Utilize different compartments and pockets in order to distribute the weight evenly.
    • heavier items should be stored in the back center of the backpack
    • lighter items should be stored closer to the front of the backpack
    • Arrange school supplies in a manner that does not allow materials to slide around
    • Check what your child is bringing to and from school. Make sure all items are necessary for the day.
    • If a backpack is too heavy, your child can carry items like a book out of the backpack. If your child’s backpack is too heavy on a daily basis, use a rolling backpack if the school allows it.
  • Always use both straps, and make sure to select a backpack with padded shoulder straps
  • The backpack should not extend past your child’s shoulders, or below the top of the hip-bones
  • Wearing the waist straps helps to more evenly distribute the weight of the backpack
  • Adjust the shoulder straps to ensure the backpack rests securely against the back
  • Warning signs that the backpack is too heavy:
    • Pain when your child is wearing their backpack
    • Tingling or numbness in their arms or legs when wearing the backpack
    • Your child has difficulty putting on or taking off the backpack
    • Check to see if your child has red marks on their shoulders once they take their backpack off
    • Any change in posture when wearing the backpack

When purchasing a backpack make sure your child tries it on just like they would try on clothes or shoes! The size and fit of a backpack is an important piece in order to reduce the risk of injury. If you would like more information or backpack safety tips visit: www.aota.org/backpack
Remember that September 20th  is AOTA’s National School Backpack Awareness Day!

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Get On That Belly!

tummy-time

One of the things that we are sure every parent of a new-born baby hears from several sources repeatedly is encourage tummy time, encourage tummy time, encourage tummy time! That is great, but not everyone really understands the reasons tummy time is so important. Without a doubt, tummy time is crucial and essential to a baby’s motor and postural development, as well as development of sensory processing skills.

Benefits of Tummy Time:

  • Provides a break from the baby’s typical supine positioning which occurs while sleeping and laying in carriers.
  • Prevents development of acquired Torticollis (abnormal or asymmetrical neck positioning due to tightness in unilateral neck muscles)
  • Increases head and neck control against gravity
  • Increases back strength
  • Increases arm and shoulder strength and stability
  • Facilitates understanding of movement (vestibular processing) as the baby experiences and learns movement of the head and body against gravity.

For motor development, establishing postural control of the head, neck, and back establishes the foundation for development of later motor milestones. This includes rolling over, crawling, pulling to stand, and walking. Motor delays can often occur if a baby does not receive sufficient amount of tummy time throughout his/her daily routine. As far as sensory processing is concerned, tummy time provides opportunities to develop vestibular processing, which is essential for the development of protective responses, body awareness, postural stability, balance, and self-soothing skills needed throughout life.

Recommendations for Tummy Time:

  • Initiate when your baby is awake/alert
  • Never leave your baby unattended during tummy time
  • Implement tummy time 2 to 3 times per day throughout your daily routine.
  • Encourage tummy time position for several minutes, increase duration of time as your baby begins to tolerate and enjoy it
  • Utilize talking, animated facial expressions, singing, and playing with toys to encourage longer tummy time sessions
  • Trial different semi-inclined positions to introduce tummy positioning. This includes:
    • Positioning your baby’s tummy on your chest, belly, lap, or on your thighs with your knees bent. Start with your body in an upright seated position and slowly lower to laying on your back on a flat surface.
    • Placing a towel roll or small playmat cushion under your baby’s chest

Difficulties with initiation of tummy time may contributed by digestive issues, colic, limited, strength, and/or poor postural control. DO NOT AVOID TUMMY TIME! If your baby consistently cries and avoids tummy time, we recommend scheduling an evaluation session with My Kids Therapy for consultation with one of our highly trained occupational therapists. Contact us at (410) 451-5700 or visit our website www.mykidstherapymd.com