The impact of habitual school bag carriage on the health of pubescent scholars
School bag carriage represents a considerable daily occupational load for children. The carriage of heavy school bags is a suspected aetiological factor of the daily physical stress of school pupils which negatively impacts on the health of their vertebral column. The objectives of this study was to determine the prevalence of school bag carriage musculoskeletal pain after the dissemination of the recommendations of Puckree’s findings (Puckree et al. 2004) in the eThekwini region of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, as well as explain the impact of school bag carriage on the pubescent’s craniovertebral angle. One hundred and eighty-seven pupils voluntarily participated in a controlled, descriptive, epidemiological retrospective study. Pupils’ biographical, epidemiological, physical activity and life-style information was gathered by a self-report questionnaire. Digital images were captured in the loaded phase(when pupils were carrying school bags) and unloaded phase (when they were not carrying school bags) in the sagittal and frontal planes. These images were analyzed using biomechanical software, Dartfish. In addition the pupils’ body mass, stature and mass of their school bags were measured using a Detecto stadiometer scale. The study being retrospective in nature recorded the prevalence of school bag carriage musculoskeletal pain over the last 12 months. Descriptive statistical tests such mean, mode, frequency, percentages and inferential chi-square statistical test (p≤ 0.05) were employed to analyze the data. The result indicated that 64.97% of the cohort experience school bag carriage related musculoskeletal pain (p<0.001). The most prevalent anatomical sites which experienced pain were the vertebral column(40.89%) and shoulders (33.99%) (p<0.001). The predisposing factors of the pain were the mass of the school bag and the reduction in the craniovertebral angle (p<0.001).It was concluded thatpubescent pupils (12.41 ±0.60 years) residing in the eThekwini region of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, experience school bag carriage related musculoskeletal pain.
Keywords: School bag, pubescent, musculoskeletal pain, craniovertebral angle.