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Hopkins Children's Neurosurgeons Warn Not to Take Head Injuries in Sports Lightly

June 01, 2009

To arrange an interview with Dr. Jallo or another Hopkins Children’s expert, contact Kim Hoppe at khoppe1@jhmi.edu.  

Sports and injuries go hand-in-hand, but pediatric neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center urge parents and coaches to pay particular attention to head injuries. Concussions are one of the most common and most dangerous of sports injuries, but because the symptoms are not always evident, these injuries are sometimes overlooked.

A concussion is essentially a bruise to the brain. In most cases, the skull and fluid around the brain protect this delicate organ, but a sudden trauma to the head can jostle the brain and cause it to hit the inner wall of the skull.

“Some people will show obvious signs of concussion, like loss of consciousness or light headedness,” says Hopkins Children’s neurosurgeon, George Jallo, M.D.  “But even mild concussions should not be taken lightly, and parents need to watch for the warning signs.” 

The following are concussion symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness or light headedness
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Prolonged headache
  • Vision disturbances
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of smell or taste

If any of these occur after a blow to the head, a healthcare professional should be consulted as soon as possible. The child should not be left alone during the first 24 to 48 hours after suffering a suspected concussion.  

In most cases a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion, however, soon after the first one, does not have to be severe to cause permanent disability or death.

Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at Johns Hopkins, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is Maryland's largest children's hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, visit www.hopkinschildrens.org.