Monday, August 23, 2010

Is your child's backpack making the grade?

© Tracy Whiteside

While a backpack is still one of the best ways to tote homework, an overloaded or improperly worn backpack gets a failing grade, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Improper backpack use can cause injury, especially to children with young, growing muscles and joints. A study led by APTA member Shelley Goodgold, PT, found that 55 percent of the children surveyed carried backpack loads heavier than 15 percent of their body weight, the maximum safe weight for children recommended by most experts.

Physical therapists recommend the following tips for safe backpack use
  • Wear both straps. Using only one strap, even with backpacks that have one strap that runs across the body, causes one shoulder to bear the weight of the bag. By wearing both shoulder straps, the weight of the pack is better distributed, and a symmetrical posture is promoted. A backpack that has padded, contoured shoulder straps will also help reduce pressure on the chest and shoulders.
  • Make sure the backpack fits. It is important to pay close attention to the way a backpack is positioned on the back, and the size of the backpack should match the size of the child.
  • Shoulder straps should fit comfortably on the shoulder and under the arms, so that the arms can move freely. The bottom of the pack should rest in the contour of the lower back. The pack should "sit" evenly in the middle of the back, not "sag down" toward the buttocks.

Wrong (left): Strap on only one shoulder.

Correct (right): Wide, padded straps on both shoulders.

Wrong (left): Load too heavy.

Correct (right): Load no more than 10-15% of body weight.

Physical therapists recommend the following features when selecting a backpack:
  • A padded back to reduce pressure on the back and prevent the pack's contents from digging into the child's back; A waist belt to help distribute some of the load to the pelvis;
    Compression straps on the sides or bottom of the backpack that, when tightened, compress the contents of the backpack and stabilize the articles.
  • Reflective material so that the child is visible to drivers at night.

Some children may find backpacks with wheels a good option. However wheeled backpacks may present problems, such as getting them up and down stairs or trying to fit them into cramped locker spaces. If a wheeled backpack is chosen, be sure that the extended handle is long enough so that the child is not forced to twist and bend, and that the wheels are sufficiently large so that the backpack doesn't shake or topple. It is also wise to consider the weight of the backpack when empty. For example, a standard canvas backpack will be lighter in weight than one with wheels.
So how do you make sure that your child stays injury-free?

Parents should look for the following signs that the backpack is too heavy

  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Red marks on the shoulders
  • Above all, urge your children to tell you if they are in pain or have discomfort before a problem becomes serious.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 70,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at

If you feel you or someone you know would benefit from physical therapy & would like to learn more, please give us a call at 540-316-2680. Or to submit an inquiry via email, click on the button below.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fauquier Health's PM&R Team participate in Triathalon

Left to right: Bruce Edwards, Kristen Pierce & Elena Cooper

Team “Fauquier Health PM&R (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation)” consisting of speech therapist Elena Cooper and physical therapists Bruce Edwards, David Grossmann, and Kristen Pierce participated in the 3rd Annual BRATS Triathlon Event #2 on July 19, 2010 held at the Vint Hill Community. The triathlon was a charity benefit to support the Owen Lea Foundation which is dedicated to serving families with neuroblastoma. The therapists enjoyed the hot July morning swimming 300 meters, biking 12 miles, and running a 5K.

Dave Grossmann crosses the finish line.

Cycling is a repetitive activity that can result in injury. Our physical therapists at Fauquier Health Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department can provide you with the proper stretches, balance, and strengthening exercises to treat your cycling related injuries.

American Physical Therapy Association's tips for avoiding bike fit related injuries:

Postural Tips

· Change hand position on the handlebars frequently for upper body comfort.
· Keep a controlled but relaxed grip of the handlebars.
· When pedaling, your knee should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Avoid rocking your hips while pedaling.

Common Bicycling Pains

· Anterior (Front) Knee Pain
Possible causes are having a saddle that is too low, pedaling at a low cadence (speed), using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals, and muscle imbalance in your legs (strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings).

· Neck Pain
Possible causes include poor handlebar or saddle position. A poorly placed handlebar might be too low, at too great a reach, or at too short a reach. A saddle with excessive downward tilt can be a source of neck pain.

· Lower Back Pain
Possible causes include inflexible hamstrings, low cadence, using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, poor back strength, and too long or too-low handlebars.

· Hamstring Tendinitis
Possible causes are inflexible hamstrings, high saddle, misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals, and poor hamstring strength.

· Hand Numbness or Pain
Possible causes are short-reach handlebars, poorly placed brake levers, and a downward tilt of the saddle.

· Foot Numbness or Pain
Possible causes are using quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, low cadence, faulty foot mechanics, and misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals.

· Ilio-Tibial Band Tendinitis
Possible causes are too-high saddle, leg length difference, and misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedal.

For further information see

At Fauquier Health Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, our therapists treat not only cycling injuries, but all other types of orthopedic and sports related injures for all ages. If you feel you or someone you know may benefit from this service and would like to hear more, please call us at 540-316-2680. Or click on the button below to ask a question.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dr. Bernard Filner to speak on pain management at the Women's Health Discussion Group

Dr. Bernard Filner, a board certified anesthesiologist specializing in treatment for acute and chronic soft tissue pain, will speak at the Women's Health Discussion Group on August 27th, 2010 at 10 am. The group will meet at The Life Center at 419 Holiday Court in Warrenton, Virginia. Dr. Filner will discuss the use of painless, noninvasive Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), also referred to as cold laser therapy, to externally treat many painful conditions including: Fibromyalgia, Myofacial Pain Syndrome, pelvic pain (including Pudendal Neuralgia and Intersitial Cystitis), back/facial/shoulder/neck pain, migraines, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and more. Dr. Filner will also discuss nonsteroidal trigger point injections and the use of microcurrent treatment to help break up scar tissue and desensitize post surgical incision sites.

Dr. Filner teaches others around the country to use the LLLT technique. His website is:

There is no charge to attend this presentation. Please call the Life Center at (540) 316-2640 to register. For more information, contact Marilyn Caine, (540) 349-9325 or