Tan Wei Vin to MINDEF: hearing loss does cause schizophrenia

Perhaps so. Otherwise how can a sane person ever dream to challenge such a strong organization like MINDEF?!

Seriously, though, I googled around & found this article from The British Journal of Psychiatry, "Middle-ear disease and schizophrenia: case–control study". It was published in 2008 by The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

In its abstract, it mentions "There is an association between middle-ear disease and schizophrenia which may have aetiological significance."

So what does it mean? Or to be precise, what the hell does the word 'aetiological' mean? A quick check: it's a variant of the word 'etiological' and it is defined as "of or relating to the philosophical study of causation".

So in other words, there is a possible connection between middle-ear disease to schizophrenia.

And hearing loss is considered middle-ear disease. (No? Unsure. Heh.)
Ergo, hearing loss may lead to schizophrenia.

Can hearing loss cause schizophrenia?

The family of a former full-time national serviceman think so. They have asked the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) for compensation for a hearing loss injury he sustained 19 years ago while serving his national service (NS).

They claim the injury caused the former Raffles Junior College student to become depressed, then schizophrenic, forcing him to lose his chance of studying to be a doctor.

During a firing exercise on Feb 22, 1991, Mr Tan Wei Vin sustained a hearing loss injury to his right ear.

Mindef has rejected the view by two psychiatrists he saw, who said there was a link between his hearing loss and schizophrenia.

In a letter last July to Mr Tan's mother, Madam Tan Sew Khim, Mindef said a Medical Board convened in April last year had assessed his schizophrenia and found there was no evidence it was caused by his ear injury.

It has denied Mr Tan, now 37, compensation.

Now, lawyer V Ramakrishnan is representing the family after being asked by the Legal Aid Bureau to do so.

In a letter to the Bureau, Mr Ramakrishnan, 79, wrote that Mr Tan, who scored nine As at his 'O' Level examinations, complained about a ringing sound in his right ear after the incident.

It caused him to be inattentive, then depressed.

After completing his NS stint in 1993, Mr Tan got into the National University of Singapore's medicine faculty. But, unable to concentrate, he was forced to drop out during his first year.

The eldest of four children, he is now unemployed as he has been unable to hold down a job. He lives in a two-room rental flat in the Jalan Sultan area with his younger brother.

In 2001, he saw private psychiatrist Yeo Seem Huat, who assessed that his mental condition was partially related to the ear injury. Another private psychiatrist, Dr Ang Yong Gua, agreed with Dr Yeo's findings.

Mindef wrote to both psychiatrists in 2008, saying it could not find scientific proof to support this link.

Speaking to MediaCorp recently, Madam Tan, 62, said: "I'm not asking for $10,000 a month, like a doctor's salary. We'll let Mindef decide how much they want to give. I'm just asking for enough for my son to get by when I'm no longer around to care for him."

Mindef's public affairs director, Colonel Darius Lim, said as Mr Tan's ear injury was service-related, Mindef agreed to cover all medical costs for the treatment of his ear injury and continues to do so.

Between 2004 and 2007, Mr Tan sought compensation for his schizophrenia but his appeals were rejected following Mindef's medical reviews.

A Singapore Armed Forces Medical Board, comprising medical professionals and psychiatry specialists, was also convened in 2008 to "further examine Mr Tan's claims", said Col Lim. The board came to the same conclusion: There was no "conclusive medical evidence" linking his schizophrenia to his hearing loss, and Mr Tan remained "ineligible" for compensation.

Madam Tan said her son still buys 'A' Level assessment books on General Paper, Physics and Biology, as that was what he was studying before the incident.

From Today, "Former NSF seeking compensation for his schizophrenia".


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