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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
Attorney • 231-946-0700

Endocrine System Dysfunction Following Brain Injury

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SeminarWeb has asked me to speak again on this emerging issue in the area of traumatic brain injury. I presented this issue to a national group of attorneys in early 2008 and have been asked to present again as there has been continued medical research in the area including 4 or 5 peer reviewed articles based on studies performed both here in the United States and abroad.

I will present updated medical information linking hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction to closed head injury. To date, scientific data confirms that anywhere from 30-50% of those that sustain a traumatic brain injury also sustain some type of injury to their pituitary gland which then causes endocrine system dysfunction. In fact, one study, by Lieberman et. al. looked at 70 cases, ages 18-58 years old with Glasgow Coma Scores of 3-15 and found that 68.5% of the group also had pituitary damage.

Of even greater interest was the documented fact that severity of injury and Glasgow Coma Score had nothing to do with the prevalence of pituitary dysfunction. In many instances, minor head injury or mild closed head injury with a GCS score of 15 revealed damage to the endocrine system. Further, in the May 2005 issue of Brain Injury, it was documented that growth hormone deficiency [a side effect of pituitary damage] occurs in 15-20% of adult patients following traumatic brain injury, regardless of injury severity. This demonstrates that pituitary hormone deficiencies are a major and relatively common complication of closed head injury.

Further, the symptoms arising from injury to the pituitary are strikingly similar to the post-concussional syndrome which arises out of trauma to the brain. These symptoms of endocrine dysfunction [in particular growth hormone deficiency] include:

1. Memory impairment

2. Concentration impairment

3. Decreased IQ

4. Fatigue

5. Anxiety

6. Depression

7. Social Isolation, and

8. Decreased sex drive

If you have sustained a closed head or traumatic brain injury and are suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should have your treating physician refer you to a competent endocrinologist for a complete assessment of your endocrine system. If your physicians are treating you for post-concussion syndrome and what you actually have is an injury to your pituitary gland, the treatment isn’t getting to the root of your problem.

If you are an attorney or simply interested in learning more about this evolving area of closed head injury, go here to sign up for the seminar to be held via webinar on January 21 2009 at 3pm.