Musculoskeletal pain and school bag usage among upper primary school- going children in Nairobi City County, Kenya
Ogana, Simon Ochieng
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There has been a growing concern on the effect of heavy backpack on health among school going children who are at an important stage of their growth and development. Grade-based learning has pushed many students to carrying heavy backpacks hence leaving them exposed to musculoskeletal problems. The objective of this study was to measure the backpack weight carried by pupils in Starehe sub-county in order to assess the effects of backpack weight on musculoskeletal pain. A descriptive cross sectional design was used. The study population comprised upper primary school going children in Starehe Sub –county, Nairobi County. Systemic random sampling method was used in selection of schools and school going children using backpacks. A sample of 379 school going children was selected from 6 public and 2 private schools in the Sub- County. Structured interviews, observation checklists, and Cornell Musculoskeletal Discomfort Questionnaires (CMDQ) were used to capture data on musculoskeletal pain and backpack use. Pretest of the tools was conducted in one primary school in the Sub –county. Validity and reliability of the instruments was tested through Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and Kappa statistics for CMDQ. The research assistants were trained on use of the tools and verification was done for completeness of the instruments during data collection. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 21. Statistical significance was set at 0.05. Descriptive and inferential statistics, that is, frequencies, mean, chi square and logistic regression were used in data interpretation. Majority of pupils (73.6%) complained of musculoskeletal pain. Low back pain (25.1%) was the most prevalent musculoskeletal pain followed by neck pain (16.9%). Very few pupils (0.8%) experienced pain in their right wrist. There was a significant association between backpack weight to schoolchild body weight (BTSW%) and the presence of musculoskeletal pain (p<0.05) with the proportion of pupils carrying school bag weighing more than 15% of their body weight being 28%. The results also revealed that most pupils (71.2%) did not take a break from carrying their backpacks. This study concluded that school children who carry backpacks that weigh more than 15% of their body weight (BTSW%) are at risk of experiencing musculoskeletal pain. It is recommended that the backpack weight percentile be reduced to less than 15% body weight of the school going child.