Macht, Gretchen, A
Industrial and System Engineering
Engineering; Wearable Devices; Health; Backpacks; Weight; Ergonomics
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Among students and other prominent users of backpacks, back pain and other associated ailments are commonly found. Due to a large amount of weight placed upon the skeletal system, subluxations, or small misalignments of the vertebrae, can occur when weight is not properly distributed. This can cause general discomfort and, in some cases, even limit mobility. When not properly addressed, these problems can become more serious and may eventually require an appointment with a licensed chiropractor to correct subluxations. As this can be costly, depending on the quality of the person’s insurance, avoiding situations such as this all together is the best solution. Thus, the purpose of this project is twofold: 1) to inform the public of the limitations and risks associated with backpack use and 2) to design a prototype product that can be used to encourage proper practices for using a backpack. The first portion of the project outlines the potential problems caused by wearing backpacks and the actions that one can take to circumvent these problems. People use backpacks and similar bags daily without much thought, however, the way in which we wear these products impact our quality of use. It is not abnormal for people to only use one strap out of two on a backpack or simply wear a backpack without consideration for the adjustable straps. From a simple analysis of physics, misalignment of these straps or the use of a singular strap puts greater stress on one side of the body, increasing the risk of subluxation in the spine. By outlining similar problems and describing the manner in which to avoid resulting injury, a guideline to improve the general quality of use with an everyday product, a backpack, is created. The second portion of the project proposes a prototype design of a product that helps to reinforce the proper usage of a backpack. This device would be especially helpful for younger populations in building good habits for using a backpack. Several studies have shown that after a certain amount of weight placed on the body, it is recommended to use a hip strap to transfer some of the weight from the back to the hips. In creating a device to promote the proper distribution of weight across the back and recommend the usage of a hip strap after a threshold amount of weight, proper practices can be encouraged. In combination with the education of potential risks from improper use, this device helps improve the overall quality of life for populations dependent on the usage of a backpack or similar products.