Traumatic Brain Injury: Hypopituitarism and growth hormone deficiency

January 6th, 2012

In recovering from a traumatic brain injury, it’s important to have an attorney who understands not only the injury, but the various medical complications and pathways to recovery.

Nearly 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with a brain injury in 2012. Of those, more than 250,000 will be hospitalized and another 50,000 will die as a result of their injuries. Patients will present with different symptoms, and with substantially different injuries. Courses of recovery will also differ. As will long-term prognosis and the potential for medical complications. In properly representing a client, a brain injury trial attorney must have a deep understanding of the patient’s situation regarding recovery, case management, and quality of life.

In other words, we need to be aware of as many ways to help recovery as possible and any effect of the injury that might not be immediately apparent in diagnosis.

Location of Pituitary GlandOne issue that may arise is damage to the pituitary gland, which can severely hinder the ability of the victim to recover. While a brain MRI might show limited damage, or a healed injury, lingering effects from pituitary gland injury could mean the original injury was more damaging than previously thought.

Functions of Pituitary Gland

  • Small gland at bottom of hypothalamus used to regulate hormones necessary for homeostasis.
  • Needed for growth hormone, ph balance, regulations of blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Damage to the pituitary gland can be caused in moderate to traumatic brain injury either through a direct blow or swelling around the gland. Hormonal deficiency, primarily from pituitary gland damage, can be found in 30% to 50% of patients suffering moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.

“That hormonal alterations substantially modify the post-traumatic clinical course and the success of therapy and rehabilitation underscores the need for the identification and appropriate timely management of hormone deficiencies to optimize the patient recovery from head trauma to improve quality of life and to avoid the long term adverse consequences of untreated hypopituitarism,” IOM Gulf War and Health reported in 2009.

Hypopituitarism may present with symptoms similar to that of traumatic brain injury, including reduced strength/energy/endurance, decrease cognitive function and depression. Normal pituitary function is essential during recovery from a brain injury. Medical issues involving the pituitary gland can severely limit a patient’s ability to recovery from injuries.

Treatment may include hormone replacement. Such therapies can be used to improve the medical situation resulting in improved lipid profile, bone density, muscle mass, exercise tolerance, and reduced body fat..

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