Many U.S. military service members have been subjected to blast exposure-induced mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. This trauma, caused mostly by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), causes brain injuries not easily treated with strategies applied to other, more extensively-studied forms of blunt head trauma.
Active duty service members in Iraq suffering from mTBI agreed to participate in a study comparing the efficacy of a potential countermeasure to blast-induced mTBI called N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) to a placebo. Individuals who received NAC reported resolution of symptoms to mTBI seven days after beginning treatment. Service members who received NAC within 24 hours of blast exposure were 86% likely to report symptom resolution.
NAC demonstrates the first short term pharmaceutical countermeasure to mTBI; in the theater of war it can be quickly administered to effectively resolve dizziness, memory loss, and other symptoms of blast induced mTBI.
Hoffer M, Balaban C, et al. Amelioration of acute sequelae of blast induced mild traumatic brain injury by N-Acetyl Cysteine: A double-blind, placebo controlled study. PLoS ONE. (January 2013).