Backpack Misuse And Chronic Pain: 5 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Bookbag

Image courtesy of Comrade Foot.

Image courtesy of Comrade Foot.

Chronic back pain is common, and, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), young children are suffering from back pain sooner than previous generations. One of the main reason is the heavy backpacks that children lug around each year, despite digital advances.

“In my own practice, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain,” stated Scott Bautch, DC, of the ACA Council on Occupational Health in a press release. “The first question I ask these patients is, ‘Do you carry a backpack to school?’ Almost always, the answer is ‘yes.'”

So, as you prepare for back-to-school season or even as you consider a new backpack for yourself, the ACA has some tips to make sure you’re not one of the almost 5,500 people who get treated for backpack-related injuries at emergency rooms.

  1. Does it weigh 5% – 10% of your body weight? According to Dr. Bautch,  a backpack should weight no more than 5% to 10% of your or your child’s body weight. If a backpack weighs too much, the body naturally shifts forward, using the back to support the extra weight, rather than the shoulders.
  2. Is it the correct size? Backpacks should narrower and longer than your torso as well as hang fewer than four inches below the waist, which may be difficult to find for children. However it is important because backpacks that hang too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing the body to lean forward when walking.
  3. Does it have two wide, padded, adjustable shoulder straps? Wide, padded, and adjustable straps are very important, according to the ACA. They keep the backpack comfortable and the weight on the shoulders. Also, if you’re shopping for a child, encourage them to use both shoulder straps, even if it’s not the ‘cool’ thing to do. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
  4. Does the backpack have a padded back? A padded back is more comfortable, but it also helps protect sharp objects or edges from poking through.
  5. Does the pack have several compartments? Compartments are important because they kelp to keep that contents safely stored and evenly positioned. The ACA notes that pointy or bulky objects should be placed away from the area that will rest on your back.

Additionally, if you notice your child struggling with a heavy backpack, talk with the teacher about alternate therapies, such as using an electronic book or getting some additional copies for home. On a personal note, scoliosis runs in my family, and one of my family members had a very painful time carrying her backpack around starting in middle school. With a simple conversation with teachers and a properly-fitted backpack, she was able to help lighten her load, perhaps preventing years of future pain.

Creative Commons License
Photo above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Science Says You Should Watch More Cat Videos

Lil Bub (whose owner Mike Bridavsky helped distribute the survey via social media). Image courtesy of Mike Bridavsky/

Lil BUB (whose owner Mike Bridavsky helped distribute the survey via social media). Image courtesy of Mike Bridavsky/

Cat videos were viewed almost 26 billion times on YouTube last year alone, so it is no surprise that almost everyone loves to watch furry felines, like Grumpy Cat or Lil BUB. However, science is giving us another reason to tune in – watching cat videos online actually boosts your energy and decreases your negative feelings, according to a new study.

Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at the Indiana University Media School, surveyed almost 7,000 people about how viewing cat videos affected their mood. After watching cat-related online media, participants said they felt more energetic and positive, and had fewer negative emotions, including anxiety, annoyance, and sadness.

Jessica Gall Myrick. Image courtesy of Indiana University.

Jessica Gall Myrick. Image courtesy of Indiana University.

Overall, the participants agreed that the pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating (many watched videos at work or while studying). Myrick says the results suggest that future research could explore how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy.

“If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore,”stated Myrick in a press release.  “Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

To learn more about the study, it was published in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

ETE is the plate for better portion control

There are so many expensive calorie-counting, eating pace-controlling devices and apps out there now, but a new plate sticks to simple lines to help you eat healthier. ETE is a well-designed plate that keeps things old-school by using visual markers to make sure you’re eating well-balanced portions.

The plate, which was created by a Singapore-based team, has colorful lines that outline the ideal portion of food items per meal based on U.S. and European Union recommendations. The lines help people to visualize how much of certain things they should be eating. This is especially noticeable for vegetables, which are often absent from many meals.

ETE is designed to serve as a guide though rather than an ultimatum for every meal; as such, certain things, like dairy, are noticeably absent.

ETE plate is currently in the middle of its Indiegogo campaign, with over one-fifth of its funds raised in the first few days. One plate currently starts at $15 for the early bird price.

Coming Soon: Apps That Let Kids Design And 3D-Print Toys

Image courtesy of Creative Tools.

Image courtesy of Creative Tools.

Kids have a new way to express their creativity, thanks to a partnership between Mattel and Autodesk. Soon, kids and kids-at-heart will be able to use a series of apps to customize toys and then 3D-print them.

The goal of the partnership is to provide a new immersive experience by combining physical toys with digital adventures, with the goal of pushing the boundaries of creative play. The initiative also wants kids to learn while they play and customize.

The first in a series of new apps and an online hub for Mattel’s 3D-printing initiatives are scheduled to launch in the second half of 2015, but both companies are keeping mum on the details. Autodesk revealed that more information will come out on a later date.

Hate Needles? Two Devices Make Shots Tolerable

Over the past month, there have been two different devices targeting people who hate needles. If that sounds like you, listen up, because one could be on the market next year.

A Device That Vacuums Your Blood 

Tasso is creating a device that vacuums a small blood sample when held against the skin for two minutes. The idea is to make sampling less painful and more convenient.

Tasso uses a small vacuum to draw blood.

This prototype device is being developed into a fool-proof, almost painless way to draw blood samples by Tasso, formed by students of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Image courtesy of David Tenenbaum/UW-Madison.

The technology relies on the forces that govern the flow of tiny fluid streams and the blood collects in a sample that can be mailed off or brought to a lab.

“At these scales, surface tension dominates over gravity, and that keeps the blood in the channel no matter how you hold the device,” stated Ben Casavant, vice president and co-founder of Tasso, in a press release.

The company seems to be onto something with promise because the DARPA has just given Tasso an additional $3 million to fund work with companies that make blood preservatives. It also has funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop a method to diagnose HIV.

Tasso’s target audience are people who need tests regularly but not frequently as well as those who fear getting their blood drawn by more traditional methods.

“We see our specialty as people who need to test semi-frequently, or infrequently, to monitor cancer or chronic infectious diseases, for example,” Casavant said. “Instead of buying a machine or expensive equipment, we ship you this device, you put it on your arm for two minutes and send it back to the lab.”

If all goes well, Casavant says, the company will send its application to the FDA at the end of 2015, and the device will reach the market during 2016.

The 3-D Printed Gadget That Numbs An Injection Site

Three freshmen engineers at Rice University have created a 3-D printed device that numbs skin before an injection.  The team has a functioning prototype that can cool a small area in about one minute, which is significantly shorter than current numbing methods, such as creams.

In a YouTube video, the creators explain their device is targeted to those who are more sensitive to pain, like kids and the elderly, and for sites where injections hurt more, like the face or groin. .

According to a Rice article, the freshmen specifically designed the device not to be reusable because injections are such a common procedure. Luckily, they created the device with relatively common and inexpensive materials, and each one costs about $2 to make.

The team is applying for a patent, and they are open to continuing the project and perhaps starting a company.

SmartPlate Counts Calories For You

The new SmartPlate and microwaveable lid. | Image courtesy of Fitly.

The new SmartPlate and microwaveable lid. | Image courtesy of Fitly.

SmartPlate by Fitly is a Kickstarter project that automatically weighs and tracks the food you consume.

The concept is simple – just place what you want to eat on the plate, then cameras and sensors gather the food’s data and pushes it to a smartphone app. That way, you know exactly how many calories, carbs, sugars, fats, etc. you consume throughout the day. The plate also alerts you if you’re eating too quickly.

The SmartPlate app. | Image courtesy of Fitly.

The SmartPlate app. | Image courtesy of Fitly.

The plate pairs with a smart phone device, which stores and tracks all your data. Through the device, you can set goals, like to lose or maintain weight, train for a marathon, or follow a specific type of diet.

The website and Kickstarter campaign page don’t delve into whether the plate has ben independently tested, and SmartPlate is unfortunately not microwaveable. However, each plate does come with a microwaveable lid, to hopefully alleviate that drawback.

The SmartPlate is currently in the middle of its Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds for the product. So far, Fitly has raised about a quarter of it’s goal, and there’s over a month left on the campaign.

The plates are currently going for $99 on the campaign page, and they will retail at $199. Fitly expects the SmartPlate to be available in 2016.

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Have A Fever? STEMP Sends You A Notification.

STEMP automatically monitors a sick child's temperature. Images courtesy of STEMP.

STEMP automatically monitors a sick child’s temperature. Images courtesy of STEMP.

I didn’t think the thermometer was outdated… until I saw STEMP. STEMP is the smart temperature patch that is changing the way we take our temperatures. It sticks on like a bandaid and can continuously monitor your temperature or that of a loved one.

The founders of STEMP are parents who wanted a better way to look after their sick children instead of getting up to take their temperature every hour. So they created a digital sensor with a disposable stick-on patch that alerts parents when a child’s temperature spikes or drops.

STEMP is waterproof and adheres like a bandaid.

STEMP is waterproof and adheres like a bandaid.

The sensor uses bluetooth to push notifications to your phone (currently only for iPhones). It also has an app tracks temperatures over time. The data can be saved or shared with someone like a physician or caregiver.

Although STEMP is kid-friendly (aka waterproof), anyone can use it. The STEMP founders believe the patch can be valuable to those who need to monitor a chronic condition, are trying to conceive, care for elderly, or just want to monitor their everyday health.

As many of you know, I’m a skeptic until I read the reviews, but STEMP is already on its way to proving itself. It was the winner for personal health at the 2015 CES Everyday Health Awards for Innovation , a finalist for digital health and life science technologies at the 2015 SXSW Innovation Accelerator, and a finalist for the 2014 USAID Fighting Ebola Innovation Accelerator.

The public must believe in STEMP, too, because it just wrapped up a successful Indiegogo campaign yesterday. The funds will be used to manufacture STEMP, create Android and iPad/Apple Watch compatibility, and more. Pre-ordered patches are expected to ship this fall.

Related Reading
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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

The Liebster Award

Thanks for the nomination!

Thanks for the nomination!

First off, I’m sorry I’ve been off-the-grid this past week. I’ve been under the weather, but I promise new posts will resume daily next week.

Secondly, Crunch Theory has been nominated for the Liebster Award! Thanks to Angie’s Kitchen Shenanigans for the nomination. For those who don’t know, the Liebster Award is a way for new bloggers to get to know each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

1. Answer the 10 questions given to you by your nominator.
2. Link the person who nominated you to your blog post, so they can read the 10 questions you answered. (And share your awesomeness!)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for the award that have fewer than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 more questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and telling them.

I like to keep too much information about myself out of my posts, but I think this could be a great way for all of you lovely readers to get know a little bit more about the woman behind the blog.

10 Questions and Answers
1. What is the best time of day for you? The first thing in the morning before anyone else is awake.
2. Of everything on this planet, what drives you bonkers? When people don’t use their turn signals.
3. What is your favorite pastime? Dancing.
4. Are you living your dream, what is it? I am living my dream of where I wanted to be right now. I wanted to be a content producer, and here I am doing it. But my dreams of yesterday are not my dreams of tomorrow, and that’s what keeps me driving forward. I want to be a better writer, media maker, journalist, business woman, and overall human being.
5. Make a list of inspirational moments. One stands out for me. When I was in high school, I came across a quote that became my mantra – To have any lasting impact on the world, we must focus our energy on people, not profits or success. If we can help one person, our lives will not be lived in vain.
6. Are you a city, country, or suburb type of person? Suburb – close enough to experience the action, far enough to enjoy the quiet.
7. Indoors or outdoors? A little bit of both is good.
8. If you were an animal what would you be and why? A sea turtle – who wouldn’t want to be like Crush from Finding Nemo?
9. Tell me one thing you love about yourself. My work ethic.
10. Why do you blog? During CES 2015 I became acutely aware that there aren’t enough women’s voices in the technology world. I am determined to change that by creating technology-focused content and giving others, especially women, a platform they feel comfortable to learn and engage in conversation about emerging consumer technologies.

My nominations (apologies for any repeats)
2. *This one is super new, but it’s written by someone I went to school with who has a background in nutrition.

My questions for the nominees
1. Why do you blog?
2. What is the best time of day for you?
3. Tell me one thing you love about yourself.
4. What’s your favorite movie and why?
5. What was your favorite subject in school?
6. Where have you not been that you want to go?
7. What is one app or website you can’t live without?
8. What TV or movie character do you identify most with and why?
9. Name a role model (or a few).
10. Name one thing on your bucket list.

Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

The Coolest Clock Is Wrapping Up Its Indiegogo Campaign

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Is the Coolest Clock the coolest clock? Perhaps. This customizable clock is a projection system and one of the more revolutionary time-keeping devices in recent years.

The Coolest Clock doesn’t look like much before it’s turned on – just a plain, white semicircle. But once it’s attached to a wall and powered up, the clock displays much more than just the time.

Using a projection system, the clock displays real-time information, including the weather, breaking news, calendar alerts, and social media updates. It also includes various, customizable displays that can also change size so that the clock adjusts to your needs and preferences.

The clock is controlled by a smartphone app, so that the display can be easily changed. It can also display information from your device, like your location or your latest photos to help you stay connected with loved ones when you’re away from home.

The Coolest Clock is wrapping up its Indiegogo campaign this week. It’s already been successfully funded (by far), but you have a few days left to pre-order the clock for $199, which is $100 off future retail prices. The clock is expected to ship at the end of 2015.

Related Reading
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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Fitness Friday: Should you have to be 21 to buy cigarettes?

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

A new study found that raising the minimum legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 25-, 21-, or even 19-years-old may be able to decrease the amount of people who continue smoking later in life.

The authors note that 90% of smokers report using their first cigarette before turning 19, and nearly 100% smoke for the first time before they are 26. This is likely because the parts of the brain responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and responding to peer pressure are still developing through young adulthood, and teenage brains are particularly susceptible to the effects of nicotine.

By pushing back the age at which teenagers and young adults have access to cigarettes, the estimated rate of young people who smoke dramatically decreases. Overall, the authors found that raising the minimum legal age could decrease the initial rates of smoking anywhere from 5% to 30% in people under 25.

The effect is most prominent when the minimum purchasing age is raised to 21. While 21-years-olds associate regularly with those over 25, they are generally not in the same social circles as those who are under 18. (Duh.) Therefore, younger people, whose brains are most susceptible to factors that can lead to them to start smoking, are less likely to encounter cigarettes at all.

Although 249,000 premature deaths in people born between 2000 and 2019 could be avoided by raising the minimum purchasing age to 21, don’t expect the rules to change everywhere soon. The federal government is not allowed to raise the minimum purchasing age over 18, so states and localities would have to be the ones responsible for the changes. Some cities, like New York, have already enacted laws making illegal for someone under 21 to purchase cigarettes.

To read the full study, which was conducted at the request of the FDA, visit report’s website. Read more Fitness Friday stories here.

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.