The pituitary, working in conjunction with the hypothalamus, is commonly called the "master gland" because it is so important to our hormonal balance and survival. A pituitary is a piece of tissue similar to the uvular in the back of one's throat- it hangs down and is surrounded by boney tissue in the very middle of the brain.
Despite it being assumably well protected, research in the last ten years has found that a pituitary injury occurs in a significant percentage of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs):
Symptoms: after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and during recovery, it is often difficult or impossible to point to the pituitary as causing a problem. Most neurologists, and even endocrinologists, are not familiar with traumatic brain injury and pituitary injury. However, if you are more than a year out after injury and you are having problems with fatigue, body composition, issues with hot or cold, or any other strange symptoms, you may want to get your pituitary checked. Almost all of the symptomatic ex-NFL players and many returning veterans are suffering from pituitary injury. The first part of the pituitary to go bad is the part that creates human growth hormone (HGH), an important hormone that, of course, allows children to grow and in adults plays an important function regarding energy, body composition, and cardio vascular health. It is more likely to occur in the context of a high speed accident with moderate to severe TBI or in the context of repeated concussions, such as a football player.
Treatment: Most advanced health care professionals are not aware of this issue and will be able to do little, if anything, to help. This is especially unfortunate, since persons with human growth hormone deficiency, who are given artificial hormones through injection on a daily basis, report incredible improvement in their overall life. While the shots do not cure cognitive issues they do help with energy, concentration and overall health. This diagnosis should not be done through a simple blood test, which is a waste of time. You need to undergo what is known as a glucose tolerance test, which must be done in the office of an endocrinologist familiar with this test. It takes three hours and is not an easy test to do. There are several places in the United States with experience to do this type of testing on a regular basis. Please call us at 1-866-882-7246 if you have any questions about this.
Having such a human growth hormone deficiency (as well as possibly testosterone deficiency, post traumatic diabetes and other pituitary problems) along with traditional traumatic brain injuries helps establish objective brain injury in the patient. The treatment for growth hormone deficiency requires a daily injection of synthetic human hormone which in children can run $15k to $20k a year and in adults $10k to $12k a year. Once a brain injury (TBI) survivor has gone through all of this, then a battle with the insurance companies will probably be necessary. Because of the expense, they fight against having to pay for the daily injections but ultimately they will lose.