NORTH CANTON — Walsh University freshman Bridget Danko was carrying only the essentials in her purple plaid backpack: A chemistry book, biology book, a few biology binders and her laptop.

Danko, who weighs 122 pounds, learned Wednesday that the materials, which she carries across campus every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, added up to 25 pounds — the equivalent of five bricks. The weight far exceeds the recommended weight limit and could lead to future muscular and skeletal problems.

Becca Bode, a second-year graduate student in Walsh’s master of occupational therapy program, said backpacks should weigh no more than 10 percent of the student’s body weight.

“Anything more than that you’re putting your back at risk,” she said.

Walsh, in partnership with the American Occupational Therapy Association, conducted a Backpack Awareness Day on Wednesday to educate students about the serious health effects backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly can pose. This event was part of the National School Backpack Awareness Day, being held by occupational therapy practitioners, educators and health professionals across the country.

Stephanie Bachman, director of the occupational therapy program, said the university wanted to host the event because it's an issue that impacts students at nearly any grade level. She noted that her own children, who are in third grade, often leave home with overloaded backpacks.

“We noticed that students particularly at the grad and undergrad level that they tend to carry all these books around and not carrying their backpacks correctly,” she said. “You could tell that they needed some education.”

“I’ll probably ditch the stuff that I don’t use that often to shed those 4 pounds [to meet the recommended limit],” he said.

Besides eliminating items from the backpack, Bri Libertore, a second-year occupational therapy student, said proper wearing techniques also can help minimize injury risk.

“You don’t want it hanging too low because the weight is going to pull you back,” she said. “If the straps are too tight, it could irritate your skin.”

She also suggested that students use the hip or chest belt as a way to alleviate back strain.