BU Occupational Therapists Visit Local Schools to Encourage Backpack Safety

Contact: Pamela Powell, (617) 353-0197 | ppowell@bu.edu

(Boston) – On Wednesday, September 22, middle school students in Andover, MA will learn to “pack it light” and “wear it right” when they have a chance to participate in the third annual National School Backpack Awareness Day.

Karen Jacobs, clinical professor of occupational therapy (OT) at Boston University (BU) Sargent College, and other representatives from this OT program will be at West Middle School and Doherty Middle School from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. to teach kids about backpack safety. The group will conduct “weigh ins” to make sure students’ bags are no more than 15% of their bodyweight. They will also teach proper loading and adjustment techniques to reduce the amount of strain on their backs, necks and shoulders.

“We began this program to address the increasing problem of improper backpack use,” said Jacobs, who is also the spokesperson for this year’s nationwide event. “While our children are still growing, they’re at risk for doing long term damage to their bodies.”

This event is sponsored annually by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Last year, volunteers weighed over 10,000 backpacks throughout the country while Jacobs and her students weighed over 600 in Andover and Lynn alone.

Jacobs has conducted research to support backpack education and is delighted to see that this outreach has paid off.

“On a return visit to the school in Lynn last year, many of the kids remembered us, and what we taught them,” said Jacobs. “We’ve been a catalyst to show children, parents, teachers and administrators that wearing a backpack shouldn’t be painful.”

Boston University (BU) Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is an institution of higher education, research and clinical centers whose premier academic programs prepare dynamic health professionals and whose research and leadership in the health and rehabilitation sciences is actively shaping health care. BU Sargent College is the only private institution in the country offering five nationally ranked graduate programs in health and rehabilitation sciences. For more information and to learn about their degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, communication disorders, health sciences, athletic training, nutrition, and rehabilitation counseling, visit http://www.bu.edu/sargent.