Objective: To evaluate the occurrence of hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to determine its effect on functional improvement in acute inpatient rehabilitation.
Methods: A retrospective chart review identified male patients with a primary diagnosis of TBI with or without a skull fracture, an onset date within 6 months prior to admission, and were 16 years of age or older. The percentage of individuals in this population with abnormal hormone levels was determined on the basis of the established normal reference range for each hormone assay. The functional independence measure, which assesses functional outcomes in acute inpatient rehabilitation, was used to examine the relationship between hormone levels and functional improvement.
Results: Hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction was identified in nearly 70% of men following TBI. Hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, was observed in 66% of the patients, followed by low levels of free T4 in 46% and low levels of insulin growth factor-1 in 26% of patients. Hypopituitarism associated with impaired functional recovery. Specifically, the functional independence measure change per day was significantly lower in patients with low levels of testosterone and insulin growth factor-1.
Conclusions: These findings suggest the importance of testosterone and insulin growth factor-1 activity in the early stages of physical and cognitive rehabilitation.