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Dr. Donnica To Appear on “The Rachael Ray Show”

(Far Hills, NJ 9/4/08): Women’s health expert, Dr. Donnica Moore joins Rachael Ray for her first ever “Human Lab: Classroom Edition” on “The Rachael Ray Show”, Friday September 5, 2008 (check local listings for times/stations). Recognizing that it's back-to-school time, Rachael enlisted two 5th graders and a middle-school teacher to put some back to school products to the test! In the segment, Rachael asks Dr. Donnica to give medical input on the topics of stress reduction (for teachers and parents), as well as back-pack injuries in students.

With middle schoolers’ backpacks often weighing over 30% of their body weight, parents and educators have become more concerned about the risk of backpack injury. “While the most important preventive measure is to reduce the weight that your children carry in their backpacks, it is also important to teach them backpack safety,” says Dr. Donnica. Safety tips include wearing the backpack properly, choosing an ergonomically designed backpack, proper lifting techniques, and safe storage. “And while it seems obvious to adults that you shouldn’t use a backpack to hit others, one of the most common backpack-related reasons for Emergency Room visits was getting hit with a loaded backpack,” Dr. Donnica notes. This data came from a 2003 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal (Pediatrics) that examined acute backpack injuries in children.

The study evaluated medical records from 100 US emergency departments. It found that 247 children from age 6 to 18 (average age 11) had backpack injuries. The most common cause of these ER injuries was tripping over a backpack, in 28 percent of the patients. Getting hit by the backpack caused 13 percent of the injuries.

Only 13 percent of these injuries were to the neck, back and shoulders caused by wearing the backpack. “It’s important to note, however, that orthopedic problems from heavy backpack use are more likely to be chronic problems and either ignored by parents or treated by pediatricians and orthopedists rather than emergency rooms,” says Dr. Donnica. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says nearly 7,000 children are injured every year due to the heavy load of textbooks in their packs.

What should parents do? “Weigh your child and his backpack,” advises Dr. Donnica. The backpack should never weigh more than 20 percent (one fifth) of a student's weight. And the straps should both be worn over the shoulders, and tight enough so the pack is close to the body, about two inches above the waist.

Created: 9/4/2008  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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