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Experts offer advice for some common health issues for kids heading back to school

(WABI)
Published: Aug. 28, 2019 at 5:53 PM EDT
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When you move your child's backpack, does it feel like it contains a bag of rocks? Or, maybe you've heard them complain of back pain?

And, what about their eyesight?

Have they been straining their eyes trying to see the board at the front of the classroom?

I sat down with some experts to find out how your kids can safely carry their backpacks and how to make sure their eyes and vision are 'Grade A' this school year.

With school starting, many parents are scrambling to get their kids new school supplies and clothes.

But as you check off your to-do list, don't forget about their health, especially when it comes to the neck, back, and shoulders.

Backpacks are super helpful in helping kids carry their gear, but it may be time to lighten the load.

Lucas Bartlett is an athletic trainer at Northern Light Sports Health.

He recommends parents get their child a backpack with a wide shoulder strap to help prevent injury.

"Those provide some support and take a little bit of pressure and tension off the shoulders,” Bartlett explained.

While it's common to see kids pack as much as they can into their bags, the American Chiropractic Association recommends a backpack weigh no more than 5% or 10% of a child's weight.

"Try to find one that has multiple compartments,” said Bartlett. “They are very common, especially for the grade school age kids, to have one large compartment where everything goes. But, if you can find one that has more compartments, it will help distribute that way and disperse it on the body a little better."

In addition, overall eye health is important to helping kids learn.

For healthy eyes, Dr. Alyssa Verrill of Penobscot Eye Care in Brewer recommends your child gets regular vision screenings and exams.

It's an important step in detecting or correcting eye problems early.

"The AOA (American Academy of Ophthalmology) recommends that infants starting at 6 months of age should have an eye exam and again at three years of age, and then again every year during the school age years,” Verrill explained.

Be alert if your child complains of eyestrain, headaches, or squinting when reading.

And again, don't forget to get those eyes checked!

"The vision that they have is all they know, so often times I'll have parents bringing their kiddos and they're just amazed that they couldn't see, and so, anytime is a good time to have your kids eyes checked,” Verrill said.

As far as backpacks go, we’re told students should only bring necessary items with them to help lower the weight.

They also say all heavy items should go first so it helps disperse the overall weight.

For more information on backpack safety visit: https://www.acatoday.org/patients/health-wellness-information/backpack-safety

For more vision tips visit: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/babies-children-teenagers.

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