Students and Spinal Health Iqaluit NU

Learn about how the posture and spinal health of today's students are affected by the books and other study materials they carry to school each day.

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Students and Spinal Health

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(NC)-Life was quite different for students forty years ago. Most walked to school carrying a couple of books and when they arrived at school, the tools they used to learn were limited to books, chalk and a chalkboard. Today, a child's school experience is radically different-most are driven or bussed to school, carry heavy backpacks and use computers in the classroom.

So, how does today's lifestyle impact our children and their overall health - specifically their general posture and spinal health? Dr. Clark Mills, president of the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC), says chiropractors are seeing more and more children with spinal problems. "Carrying backpacks, poor posture in school, time at a computer and playing video games is leading our children into a future of back pain. It is truly a new generation of poor spinal health and we need to do more about it."

Even if children are using their backpacks properly, they may not be immune to back problems. Think about how often children use computers on a daily basis and how sitting at a computer affects their posture. A recent study from the U.S Department of Education shows that 90 percent of children and adolescents aged five to 17 use computers. In fact, of the younger age group, about three quarters of five-year olds now use computers.

Most home computers are set up for adult use. Children sitting at computers set up for an adult cannot properly reach the keyboard, do not fit in the chair, their feet do not reach the floor and they have to look up to see the monitor. Combine home computer with school computer workstations that are also not set up to adequately support a child's back, and it's easy to see why and how children develop back problems.

So, what can parents do to address these issues? It may seem that parents do not have a lot of control over some of these circumstances, but according to the ACAC, both parents and children can do a lot to prevent spinal problems including:

1. Assess your home computer station. Watch how your child uses the computer and how they fit on the chair. Adjust the chair so your child can reach the keyboard, place a footrest under their feet, and lower the monitor so it is eye level for them.

2. "Take a look at your child's posture", says Dr. Mills. "Is one shoulder higher than the other? Does your child seem to have a 'hunch' in the middle of their back? These are all signs that problems are already there."

3. Get regular spinal check ups for your child, just like dental check ups. Chiropractors can identify developing postural weaknesses and potential spinal problems that could affect children as they grow.

In the end, our modern conveniences are not without consequences, especially in terms of our children's health. However, parents can help ensure their children have proper fitting equipment along with a healthy balance between static and physical activities.

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