Brain injuries are emerging as one of the great costs associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of soldiers are suffering the effects of head and brain injuries, both from expected sources and some unforeseen. For example, concussion-like injuries have appeared with alarming frequency among soldiers exposed to explosive devices.
These are devices that do not break the skin, but cause severe damage nonetheless.
One of the greatest challenges facing the military, and no doubt the American healthcare system, will be how to care for and treat these wounded soldiers. Navy medical personnel have reportedly been testing the effectiveness of N-Acetyl Cysteine, a dietary supplement, on more mild brain injuries.
More commonly used to treat Tylenol overdoses, doctors hoped to see improvement in both hearing and balance among those soldiers injured by explosive devices. This is all fine, but there is a problem.
The tests are not believed to have been sanctioned.
The Pentagon is currently investigating whether these Navy medical personnel tested the drug without receiving proper administrative approval or test subject acquiescence. U.S. Navy officials are also investigating the potential of clinical research misconduct and Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) violations.
No soldiers are believed to have suffered in the tests, though that fact has not been confirmed. There was no mention in news reports that came out of whether or not any of the purported tests achieved successful results in treating brain injury.