Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Children across Wales will be getting ready to go back to school and parents and carers across the area will be buying new school uniforms, shoes and bags. However, a recent study by an ABM Paediatric Physiotherapist has revealed that back pain in children is on the increase; one of the main reasons - heavy school bags.
In the first informal research study in Wales ABM Paediatric Physiotherapist, at Morriston Hospital, Helena Webb surveyed several schools across the Neath Port Talbot area and studied a sample of children aged 8 - 12 and age 15.
Across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend the percentage of paediatric referrals to physiotherapy for back and neck pain have increased from 2.1% during September 2011 peaking at 4.5% in March 2012 and are likely remain around 3.5-3.9%.
Helena’s study found that child back pain is on the increase. She said: “As a Paediatric Physiotherapist I see children and adolescents with back pain.
“While chatting to patients during treatment sessions, it became apparent that carrying their heavy school bags around school (in the absence of lockers in schools today), and sitting on uncomfortable school furniture were huge contributing factors to their daily back pain.
“We really need to educate parents, teachers and children about the safe weight for school bags, the correct way of carrying bags and the importance of sitting on appropriate furniture in the classroom.
“Looking after your back while you’re young can help prevent back problems arising in adulthood. It’s fact that adolescent back pain sufferers are four times more likely to experience back pain as an adult.”
Helena has been invited to speak to a group of primary and secondary school teachers in the autumn of this year as part of the annual Healthy Schools Scheme teacher training sessions, on the subject of back care in young people. She hopes to use the information from the study to develop a physiotherapy-led healthy back education scheme which could be taken into schools across ABM.
Helena added: “Health eating and oral hygiene teaching is established on the health education curriculum in schools and implementing back care teaching sessions into the school timetable will help us reduce the risk of the current generation of children becoming adults who live with back pain.”