A comparative study of a novel and school issued backpack on high school adolescent posture at the New Forest High School in the eThekwini district of KwaZulu-Natal
Research has shown that more than 90% of the scholars, use backpacks, worldwide. The backpack has the ability to transport books, sports equipment and clothing between school and home, climaxing in a capacity that may affect posture. Therefore, it is noted that a backpack, which is not carried correctly, fitted improperly and/or over packed may pose a threat to the scholar’s posture Aim: To determine the effect between a novel and school-issued backpack in terms of postural symmetry measurements (photographic measurements), when compared to no backpack, on high school adolescent standing posture. Method: This research was a quantitative descriptive cross sectional experimental design. Each participating scholar underwent a BMI, height and weight screening, prior to inclusion into the data collection process. One hundred asymptomatic scholars, aged between 12 to 14 years, were recruited using convenience sampling. Thereafter, digital photographic images of each scholar was taken in 3 groups, i.e. no Backpack, with a school-issued backpack (Backpack A) and a novel backpack (Backpack B). These digital photographic images were then uploaded, by the researcher, onto the Posturepro 8 Computer Postural Software System. The objective measurement tool (Posturepro 8 Computer Postural Software System) calculated, in degrees, the postural measurements of the scholars’ neck, shoulder and pelvis, by manually constructing lines (horizontal and vertical) between the anatomical landmarks (bilaterally). IBM SPSS version 21 was used to analyse the data. A two-tailed p value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Parametric summary statistics such as mean and standard deviations were used to describe the outcomes in each group. Postural measurements were compared between the pairs (i.e. no Backpack versus Backpack A, no Backpack versus Backpack B and Backpack A versus Backpack B) using paired sample t-tests. A one sample t-test was used to compare the symmetry measurements to a null hypothesis value of 0. Results: The mean age of the one hundred scholars was 13.5 (± 0.6 SD) years. The age of the scholars ranged between 12 and 14 years. This research was performed to determine which backpack (A or B) performed better in maintaining the scholar’s posture (with no backpack). A direct comparison was performed with no Backpack to that of Backpack A and Backpack B. The comparison for each of the differences closest to zero (‘0’) in the no Backpack, Backpack A and Backpack B groups was performed using a one sample t-test. The values closer to zero (‘0’) indicated a normal postural symmetry. None of the postural symmetry measurements were significantly different from zero in all 3 groups as the mean differences were very close to zero. Therefore, when comparing Backpack A to Backpack B, this research showed that there was no significant differences between the two backpacks when looking at postural symmetry (p=0.05). Conclusion: The trends observed in this study partly supported the claims by the company (‘Improved Postural Alignment for You’) of the novel backpack. The novel backpack (Backpack B) showed significant differences in some instances when assessing other outcome measurements, but showed no significant difference when comparing postural symmetry between the two backpacks. Further studies need to be done incorporating all aspects of postural analysis, and not just postural symmetry measurements.