âCan you imagine children as young as nine and ten years old complaining of back pain? The number of children with such complaints is increasing. We have found that in most cases this is due to the continued stress on the spine caused by overloaded school bags, âsaid Dr Abrar Ahmed, head of the spine surgery unit at hospitals. Apollo Gleneagles. While the short-term effects range from discomfort in the shoulders and back pain to tissue damage, they can lead to postural distortion, disc degeneration, and long-term bone growth retardation.
When a child is carrying an overweight satchel, they tend to lean forward to stay balanced. This causes strain on the muscles which pushes the body forward into an unnatural posture. Although the child may not feel pain right away, in the long term, he develops back pain and makes his spine vulnerable to injury in the future.
âThe posture damage is permanent. At school age, their bones are tender. The mechanical pressure of the overloaded bags permanently affects bone growth, âsaid Dr Ramendu Homchowdhury, orthopedic surgeon at EDF hospital.
According to experts, the ideal weight to carry should not exceed 10% of the body weight. The effects of being overloaded with heavy school bags could be pain and discomfort in the back due to the continued stress on the spine and tissue damage that could go unnoticed for a long time. âThe extra pressure on the muscle mainly affects the middle and lower back,â said Dr. Arindam Ganguly, orthopedic surgeon at Columbia Asia Hospital.
There are 23 discs along the spine that act as shock absorbers between 33 bones. Pressure from overweight bags could degenerate these discs. “Once these discs started to degenerate, they would also contribute to chronic back problems causing psychological problems,” Dr Ahmed added.
Schools in the city, like The BSS School Ballygunge, took initiatives to reduce the weight of school bags even before the directive came into force. Student sharing of books, removal of hardcover notebooks, storage of materials for extracurricular activities at school, homework on worksheets rather than notebooks sent home are initiatives already taken by school.
âWe have been working on reducing the weight of satchels for some time. We are planning a few more initiatives on the issue, âsaid Sudeshna Banerjee, deputy principal of the BSS School. On Wednesday, the school held a campaign where the students and their respective bags were weighed. Parents have been told not to send children with overweight bags.