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Work. 2009;32(3):339-50. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2009-0832.

Backpack load limit recommendation for middle school students based on physiological and psychophysical measurements.

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  • 1The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


The load of student's backpacks has raised questions over the safety and health of schoolchildren everywhere. The purpose of this study is to use electromyography (EMG), posture evaluation, heart rate, and ratings of perceived exertion and perceptions of pain to find an acceptable backpack load limit for middle school students. Twenty middle school students aged 11 to 14 (10 female and 10 male) volunteered for the study. The subjects completed two tests, standing stationary and walking on a treadmill, where they carried 5% incremental loads from 0% body mass (BM) to 20% BM. The study indicated that the Borg-CR10 ratings and trunk flexion angle for the walking trial indicated a possible load limit of 10% BM due to the non-significant difference between 0 and 10% BM and the significant difference between 10 and 15% BM.

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