Stroke Program

The Pediatric Stroke Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg combines the expertise of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore to treat children who have developed a stroke.

A stroke is an injury to the brain caused by reduced or blocked flow in an artery supplying oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Sometimes a stroke is due to a clot in the arteries of the brain (cerebral arteries) or neck (carotid arteries).

Many families and even some physicians are not aware that the period around the time of birth is one of the most common times to suffer a stroke, making stroke in newborns the most typical form of pediatric stroke. Stroke in older children is less common, but it remains an important risk in children with congenital heart disease, some types of cancer, certain inherited blood clotting disorders, and other conditions.

The Pediatric Stroke Program at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital not only provides world-class clinical care, but also gives patients and families access to the latest research developments and the newest therapies.

The Pediatric Stroke Program is co-directed by pediatric neurologist Peter Huszar, M.D., and pediatric hematologist Neil Goldenberg, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with pediatric rehabilitation physician Dennis Hart, M.D., pediatric neuropsychologist Jennifer Katzenstein, Ph.D., and pediatric neurologist Ryan Felling, M.D., who directors the Pediatric Stroke Program at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. Dr. Goldenberg has special expertise in pediatric stroke. He is an international leader in pediatric stroke and was recruited by Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins University in 2012 from Children's Hospital Colorado, where he founded and co-directed one of the top pediatric stroke programs in the U.S.

The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital program provides a variety of services for pediatric stroke patients and their families in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary setting. It extends from the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Emergency Center, where a Pediatric Stroke Alert system is led by pediatric emergency medicine specialist Wassam Rahman, M.D., continues with inpatient care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and/or Pediatric Medicine unit, and then includes outpatient care and consultation, including rehab services.

The outpatient Pediatric Stroke Clinic is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinic involving a team of care providers devoted to stroke in children, including a neurologist, hematologist, rehab physician, neuropsychologist, pharmacist and nurse. Additional services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, as well as psychological/mental health care, are coordinated by the clinic. In addition, if the patient has an underlying medical problem or condition, a physician from the Johns Hopkins All Children's pediatric cardiology or pediatric neurosurgery program may also join the clinic team to address the patient's specific needs. Full neuropsychological evaluations for any learning, memory, attention, or school-related difficulties are available. 

Why choose the Pediatric Stroke Program at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital?

Our pediatric stroke doctors have devoted their careers to caring for children who experience a blood clot and strive to provide the best possible outcomes for their patients.

Because stroke in children is very rare-and very complex—few physicians have extensive experience in treating this problem and preventing the possible short-term and long-term complications. These may include: bleeding complications if the patient is given aspirin or blood thinners; the development of second strokes; neurological impairments (such as weakness, difficulty walking, incoordination, problems speaking); learning or school difficulties; difficulty with attention; disruptive behavior; depression/anxiety; and seizures as a result of damage to brain tissue from a stroke.

Dr. Huszar and Dr. Goldenberg have a combined experience of managing more than 200 pediatric stroke patients in the past 10 years. This experience, combined with their involvement in the latest national/international guidelines and clinical research studies, enables them to determine soon after the onset of stroke whether a child is at high versus low risk for many of the potential long-term complications described above. They develop an individualized treatment and follow-up plan designed to achieve the best outcomes for each infant, child and teen.

Dr. Goldenberg was a member of the group of pediatric stroke leaders who developed the current classification system for childhood-onset arterial ischemic stroke (the CASCADE criteria). In addition, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Pediatric Stroke Program is an active participant in the International Pediatric Stroke Study Group, through which Dr. Goldenberg and Dr. Felling are leadingor have led major studies designed to advance the understanding of relationships among risk factors, therapies and outcomes in pediatric arterial stroke and cerebral sinovenous thrombosis.

Why is a multidisciplinary team of experts so important in the care of children with stroke?

Optimal care of children with stroke typically requires expertise not only from pediatric neurologists and hematologists who specializes in stroke, but also from a variety of other pediatric specialists, including pediatric emergency department physicians, radiologists, anesthesiologists, intensive care physicians, neuropsychologists/psychologists, pharmacists, clinical laboratory specialists, and stroke rehabilitation specialists. The Pediatric Stroke Program at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital provides family-centered, comprehensive and coordinated care for infants, children and teens who suffer a stroke. Thanks to the team's expertise and coordinated approach to care, children who suffer a stroke will receive treatment and follow-up care aimed at minimizing long-term complications and achieving the best possible outcomes.