Traumatic brain injury can often cause damage to the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, both of which are critical to the production and release of hormones. The result is lowered levels of different hormones, which can become a secondary problem to the brain injury.
A recent study of males with traumatic brain injury found that 70% showed hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction. Low testosterone was found in 66% of the patients; low levels of free T4 (thyroid) in 46%; and low levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in 26%. Low levels of testosterone and IGF-1 were specifically associated with poor recovery and less independence. Both testosterone and IGF-1 can be easily tested and administered in the early stages of traumatic brain injury, which may help to increase the rate of recovery in male patients.
Rosario ER, Aqeel R, Brown MA, et al. Hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction following traumatic brain injury affects functional improvement during acute inpatient rehabilitation. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (June 2012).