Effect of backpack load carriage on cervical posture in primary schoolchildren

Work. 2012;41(1):99-108. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1289.

Abstract

Objective: This study examined the effects of various backpack loads on elementary schoolchildren's posture and postural compensations as demonstrated by a change in forward head position.

Subjects: A convenience sample of 11 schoolchildren, aged 8-11 years participated.

Methods: Sagittal digital photographs were taken of each subject standing without a backpack, and then with the loaded backpack before and after walking 6 minutes (6MWT) at free walking speed. This was repeated over three consecutive weeks using backpacks containing randomly assigned weights of 10%, 15%, or 20% body weight of each respective subject. The craniovertebral angle (CVA) was measured using digitizing software, recorded and analyzed.

Results: Subjects demonstrated immediate and statistically significant changes in CVA, indicating increased forward head positions upon donning the backpacks containing 15% and 20% body weight. Following the 6MWT, the CVA demonstrated further statistically significant changes for all backpack loads indicating increased forward head postures. For the 15 & 20%BW conditions, more than 50% of the subjects reported discomfort after walking, with the neck as the primary location of reported pain.

Conclusions: Backpack loads carried by schoolchildren should be limited to 10% body weight due to increased forward head positions and subjective complaints at 15% and 20% body weight loads.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / physiology*
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing*