Posts Tagged ‘disability claims toronto’

Pre-existing conditions and Critical Illness Claims – Duke v. Clarica Insurance

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Alberta case of Duke v. Clarica Insurance involves the denial of a critical illness insurance claim.

Mr. Duke was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He applied for critical illness through Clarica in 2001 and purchased a policy for critical illness coverage in the amount of $500,000. He submitted a critical illness claim on May 15, 2003, accompanied by an Attending Physician’s Statement. The Statement was completed by a neurologist.

He was advised that his claim was denied in September of 2003.

Parkinson’s Disease was a covered critical illness under the policy. Clarica stated that according to reports they had received, Mr. Duke’s medical history revealed symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease as early as 1997,  before the policy came into force, therefore they were denying the claim.

The Court was faced with the task of deciding two crucial issues, which can be applied to critical illness claims:

1. Is the Exclusion Clause Ambiguous?

2. Does the Plaintiff Qualify for Benefits?

The Court found that neither Mr. Duke or any of his treating physicians or assessors had associated his earlier symptoms with Parkinson’s disease prior to issuing the policy. The Court also found that the Plaintiff had no obligation to disclose these physical concerns at the time. They were generalized symptoms. The wording of the exclusion clause was found to be ambiguous and the Court found that it did not apply and that Clarica improperly denied the CI benefit.

With respect to the second issue, the Court deemed that Mr. Duke required substantial assistance in order to perform his activities of daily living and satisfied the criteria needed to require a critical illness benefit.

Mr. Duke was awarded damages in the amount $500,000, the amount of the critical illness insurance claim benefit.

Clarica appealed the decision and lost.

The judgement states: “Finally, it is agreed that the respondent was completely honest and forthright in his disclosure and did not in any way misrepresent or conceal his condition or his general state of health from the appellant, nor did he attempt to mislead the appellant.”

The full case can be found here:

Aaron Waxman and Associates is a Toronto Personal Injury Law Firm. We handle critical illness insurance claims. If your critical illness insurance claim has been denied, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.

In the News: Developments in Depression

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Depression can happen as the result of a traumatic experience. Long term depression can make it difficult to perform the duties of day to day employment and activities of daily life.

Researchers in Copenhagen have discovered that plant compounds from South African Daffodils may in time be used for treatment for depression. The plant compounds seem to be able to pass through the blood brain barrier, which is a significant finding. Typically, drugs for “diseases of the brain” are not able to pass the blood-brain barrier.

There is a new research network in Ontario attempting to boost efforts for treating depression. A former lawyer, Phil Upshall, profoundly affected by mental illness and a neuroscientist from the University of Ottawa/ Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre have joined forces and made a pitch to the federal Conservative government with their proposal for a new research network of 80 scientists working together to find ways to help Canadians with depression. The government granted a $5 million dollar initiative, for the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network. This is a recognition by the government that mental illness and depression is a serious issue in Canadian society.

The network will focus on youth suicide and post traumatic stress disorder. According to Mr. Upshall, suicide is the leading cause of death in youth after motor vehicle accidents. PTSD is an anxiety disorder but it is also linked to depression, amongst other factors. recently posted an article stating that teens and youth with anxiety and depression in Ontario can have faster access to mental health care and can skip doctor referrals. Up to a quarter of teens and youths experience anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness that go undetected due to the long wait times to see specialists.  The London Health Sciences Centre is offering a program where youth between the ages of 16-26 can pick up a phone and get a mental health assessment, thereby bypassing the need for a referral or long waiting list. Early treatment can prevent mild or moderate illness from becoming more serious.

Did you know that how you use the Internet is a reflection of your mood? Internet use can be a sign of whether or not you are depressed, according to a recent study. Time Magazine recently posted an online article about this, “The Internet Knows You’re Depressed, But Can It Help You?”.  The study examined the internet use of college students and tracked their behaviours. Depressed students typically compulsively check e-mail, watch many videos, spend a lot of time playing games and chatting, and frequently switch back and forth between applications. 30% of the students had low mood, symptoms of anxiety and difficulty with concentration.

Did you know that chronic stress blocks a gene that guards your brain from depression? It turns out that chronic stress appears to block a gene that guards against brain atrophy associated with depression.  The gene is known as Neuritin and appears to be responsible for maintaining healthy connections in particular parts of the brain. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rats, whose genes were suppressed, were found to be more anxious and depressed. Activating Neuritin led to an antidepressant response. This research adds evidence to the idea that depression may result from atrophy in the hippocampus, that brain’s centre responsible for mood and memory.

Aaron Waxman and Associates is a Personal Injury Law Firm in Toronto that handles only personal injury claims. We handle long term disability claims. If your claim for long-term disability has been denied, contact us today.



In the News: Brain Injuries

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

A Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when something outside the body hits the head with a significant force. The recent suicide of former pro football player, Junior Seau rekindled the debate on “unseen” injuries in football. These “unseen” injuries are now being classified by the CDC as traumatic brain injuries.

A traumatic brain injury can be the result of a car accident, from a fall, sports injury or other recreational activities or trauma from a blast or explosion (combat).

A TBI can cause changes in a person’s ability to think, control emotions, walk, speak, or even affect his or her sense of sight or hearing.

In the US and in Canada. TBIs are happening in epidemic proportions.

A recent article commented that “combat and football are not that different”, meaning that the potential for brain injuries are similar as are their consequences.  Troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan bear the outward signs of injury from  combat, but they also bear the “unseen” injuries” of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and TBI.

The CDC reports that car accidents are the leading cause of death amongst teenagers. The National Institute of Health says that teenagers and children are more susceptible to brain injuries and concussions as their brains are still developing. Young brains are also more likely to suffer long-term neurological and psychological disabilities that can affect social and cognitive skills, as well as family relationships, for years to come. As the brain is the most difficult organ to heal in the body, the road to recovery is long and often very costly.

Dr. Charles Tator, concussion and brain injury expert made a definite statement about the game of hockey: “We have no treatment for concussions…We have no treatment for the accumulative concussion, we have no treatment for the repetitive concussion, and it is the repetitive concussion that causes brain damage.Let’s get head shots out of hockey.”

The admission that there is no treatment for concussions is enough to carry out the debate on head shots throughout the summer. The statement comes at a time when over 1000 former NFL players are suing the league.

A U.S. study has found that female and younger athletes show more symptoms of a concussion and take longer to recover from its effects. The research comes out of a study from Michigan State University and suggests that physicians now take age and gender in mind when treating an athlete that has suffered a concussion. Canadian experts in concussions have been agreeing with the study and have also been finding that women have a higher mortality rate following severe traumatic brain injuries, outcomes seem to be worse and recovery seems to take longer than men.

Concussion risk may be influenced by gender, age, neck strength/weakness, reaction time and symptom reporting. The developing brain of younger athletes should be treated differently than adults. Experts say that each case should be treated differently.

Aaron Waxman and Associates handles traumatic brain injury injury claims. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Developments in Chronic Pain

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Canadians deserve a National Pain Strategy: this is the latest message from the Canadian Pain Coalition. On April 24, 2012 in Ottawa, stakeholders met to discuss the issue of pain at the first ever Canadian Pain Summit. Pain is one of the most common reasons for an individual to contact a doctor yet many studies conclude acute and chronic pain is not well managed. Society does not acknowledge how widespread the issue of chronic pain is. There are 6 million Canadians who suffer from chronic pain from car accidents, workplace injuries, illness, arthritis, cancer patients and veterans. The National Pain Strategy is a call to action to address to social, economic and personal impact of pain on Canadians. The strategy identifies 4 key areas:

1. Awareness and Education

2. Access


4. Ongoing Monitoring

Pain costs the economy $56-60 billion in lost wages and direct health care costs, additionally, each individual pays $17,554 for costs not funded by insurance or publicly.

One in three adults with arthritis have anxiety or depression according to researchers from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.  A new study suggests that patients with arthritis should be screened for anxiety and depression. In the United States alone, 27 million people age 25 and older have osteoarthritis, and 1.3 million adults have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Anxiety was found to be more prevalent than depression amongst people with arthritis. It has been said that heath care providers can make a difference by treating their patients for depression and anxiety and addressing these areas of concern.

A recent article commented that patients with lower back pain have a poor prognosis. It appears that episodes of low back pain return after six months in more than 50% of people and in the subsequent 18 months in 47% of people.

A large study was conducted that demonstrated how “junk food” is linked to depression. The study consisted of 9000 adults in Spain.  Consistent consumption of “fast food” and commercially basked foods and products like croissants and donuts increased the risk of depression. Depression affects 121 million people worldwide.



Developments in the Field of Depression

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Depression is not just a mental illness, it is a whole body illness. In a recent article, “Depression- A Whole Body Disorder“, it is revealed that research shows that depression and other psychological disorders affect the body just as much as they do the mind.

Researchers are starting to view depression as a whole-body, rather than strictly brain-based illness. New research has established that young people who suffer from long-term psychological stress, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder tend to develop physical conditions typically associated with adults, namely stroke, dementia, heart disease and diabetes. Scientists are studying depressed people on a cellular level. They are finding the same changes to chromosomes that occur in people as they age can also be found in people dealing with major stress and depression.

These chromosomal changes are known as “accelerated aging” and this phenomenon is changing the way people in the field of mental health view depression: it’s beginning to be thought of as a systemic illness rather than a mental illness.

A study is being conducted on deep brain stimulation and its use in patients with major depression.

BROADEN™ (Brodmann Area 25 Deep brain Neuromodulation) is the first randomized clinical research study to investigate Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as an intervention for patients diagnosed with unipolar major depressive disorder (excluding bipolar disorder) who have not improved after multiple treatments.

DBS is a therapy that uses mild pulses of current (stimulation) to regulate specific areas of the brain, the same way a pacemaker uses pulses of current to regulate the heart.

In this study, stimulation is being delivered to an area of the brain known as Brodmann Area 25, which is believed to function differently in people with major depression and appears to be overactive when people are profoundly sad and depressed.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN also discusses DBS as a therapy in an article called “Treating Depression with Electrodes Inside the Brain”. DBS actually involves drilling two holes into the skull to implant 2 battery powered electrodes deep inside the brain. DBS targets a very specific structure, Area 25 that is thought to be the ringleader of what controls our moods according to neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg. Her research showed that Area 25 is overactive in depressed patients. DBS has been used as treatment since 1997 in patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Dr. Mayberg worked with a Toronto neursurgeon, Dr. Andres Lozano with her first group of implant patients and published her study in 2005. DBS has given patients hope for depression.

Transcranial Magnetic Therapy is another type of therapy that is used to treat extreme cases of depression. It was first approved by the FDA in 2008. According to this Chicago Tribune article, the therapy entails having a device delivers small electric pulses to nerve cells in the emotional regulation centers of the brain through a wire coil wrapped around the patient’s head. The patient sits  in a comfortable chair for the duration of the treatment, which is approximately 37 minutes. It is recommended to have 20-30 sessions over a four to six week time span.  Side effects include tingling of the scalp and headache.

Aaron Waxman and Associates is a Toronto Personal Injury Law Firm. We practice personal injury law and handle long-term disability claims. If your claim has been denied, contact us for a free consultation so we can assist you to know your rights.


Social Media and Personal Injury Cases: LTD Benefits

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

We recently blogged about social media and personal injury cases. Insurance companies are using social media as a means of surveillance to try to find out more about a claimant’s character, and their credibility.

At discoveries, defence lawyers are asking for plaintiffs to produce their Facebook photos, or preserve their accounts. The requests for access to plaintiffs’ and claimants’ social media sites are not going to disappear as more and more people are joining these sites.

But how much do these social media sites tell about a person??

Consider a Quebec woman’s fight with her long-term disability insurer made headlines late in 2009. The headlines were essentially “Depressed woman loses benefits over Facebook photos”.

Nathalie Blanchard, an employee of IBM, went on sick leave for major depression and was being paid long-term disability benefits through Manulife Financial for a year and a half. She attended therapy, took prescription medications, and then her doctor suggested that she take a trip and try to enjoy herself, so she booked a trip, she notified her insurance company and she took pictures of her trip.

She posted those trip pictures on Facebook. It turns out Manulife had their eye on her Facebook account and noticed her photos and determined she did not appear depressed in her photos.

When her benefits cheques stopped coming, she called Manulife and asked why. Manulife described her Facebook pictures to her and told her that is evidence she is no longer depressed. She doesn’t understand how Manulife accessed her photos when her profile is private.

She retained a lawyer to sue Manulife and have her benefits restored, her lawyer felt Manulife’s actions were inappropriate.

It is important to consider the fact that depression and mental illness aren’t visible illnesses like physical injuries. A picture doesn’t necessarily capture a person’s state of mind.

Manulife felt that Blanchard was well enough to work based on her pictures.

Manulife would not comment specifically on Blanchard’s case but said they would not deny or terminate a valid claim based solely on information found on sites such as Facebook. A spokesperson for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association said “We can’t ignore it, wherever the source of the information is..”

The case is before the courts now.


Recent Developments in Brain Injury Research

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Brain Trauma might be more common than expected according to the Mayo Clinic. In a recent study published in the journal Epidemiology, researchers from the Mayo Clinic applied a new system for classifying injuries to the head and found that the incidence of traumatic brain injury is likely greater than has been estimated by the CDC.

What people often fail to remember and recognize is that even mild traumatic brain injuries can affect a person’s sensory motor functions, thinking, awareness and communication.  A lot of people have gone undiagnosed.

Researchers came up with the  Mayo Traumatic Brain Injury Classification System, a new brain injury method that classifies head injuries with new categories.  The categories label patients with “definite,” “probable” and “possible” TBIs, providing a way to incorporate symptoms such as a brief period of unconsciousness or even an injured patient’s complaint of dizziness or nausea.

Researchers are finding a strong link between TBI and post traumatic stress disorder. Researchers found a causal link between mild traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. There is an increased susceptibility to developing PTSD. People who have sustained a mild TBI are also more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

An experimental drug might limit stroke damage. There is currently only one effective treatment for stroke, which is a Tissue Plasminogen Activator TPA that can dissolve blood clots that cause a stroke. the catch is that is has to be given very soon after symptoms appear and doctors first have to make sure that the stroke itself was not caused by a ruptured blood vessel. If that was the case, TPA can make the situation a lot worse.

At the Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute in Canada, it was discovered that a drug known as a PSD-95 inhibitor could be used as a treatment for strokes. It works by blocking a key protein that leads to brain-cell death. The study has been published in the journal, Nature.

Daily doses of a drug, Amantadine, used to treat Parkinson’s disease may help treat brain injuries according to a new study. The drug was given to patients who had suffered severe brain injuries. The doctors found that the drug helped with recovery and noticed a difference between patients who were given the drug and patients who were part of the clinical study that did not receive the drug.

Amantadine was also used as a flu drug in the past. When given to patients with serious traumatic brain injuries, it was noted that far fewer patients who were given this drug remained in a vegetative state. Visible steps towards recovery was seen.

Another medication being tested as a treatment for brain injuries is Clazosentan. A TBI causes a decrease of blood flow to the cerebrum of the brain. There is a receptor in the brain called endothelin receptor A (ETrA) contributes to the restriction of blood flow as early as four hours after a brain injury. Clazosentan is thought to specifically block these receptors.

How can doctors truly diagnose a brain injury? ABC news posted an article about detecting unseen damage in the brain with traumatic brain injuries. Doctors often miss brain injury damage that doesn’t show up on scans. Scientists are in the process of testing a tool that lights up the damage caused to the brain’s wiring by blows to the heads. Scientists want to make these “invisible wounds” visible.

For doctors, if they can’t see or quantify the damage, it’s hard to treat it. Especially with more serious head injuries, standard scans, like CT scans cannot see beyond bleeding or swelling to tell if the brain’s connections are broken in a way it that it can’t repair on its own.

Scientists are looking into technology called fibre -tracking, referring to nerve fibre, which act like a telephone network. These fibres make up the white matter of the brain. The new proposed MRI scan examines these connections and detects if any connects have been broken.

Aaron Waxman and Associates is a Toronto Personal Injury Law Firm that handles brain injury litigation claims and other personal injury matters.

Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Insurance companies and their adjusters are increasingly relying on social media as an investigative tool.

Insurance companies are using social media to verify and challenge the accuracy of personal injury claims.

So, what types of accounts are being looked at? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, My Space, hi5.

But, insurance companies haven’t gone public with their policies about social media. We don’t know how they are collecting information, monitoring social media and for what purpose.

Anyone who has a claim for accident benefits or disability benefits should be aware of these tactics and consider what they post on social media sites. You have the ability to choose your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Be wary of what your friends post, especially if they have open profiles and check your settings regarding visibility for these posts.

Clients should also be aware of anonymous “friending” to gain access to Facebook or directing a third party to “friend” someone for the purposes of investigation. These are unethical practices.

According to a recent article published by Canadian Underwriter, “As much as social media sites can help to inform, it is also important to view the information as a snapshot. You have to incorporate it into a total assessment of the claim. You can’t just hang your hat on social media.”

What do the courts have to say about the use of social media in litigation?

Judges in Canada are sorting through the consequences of the uses of social media. The following Ontario cases are cases where judges ruled that content posted on social media sites (Facebook) is admissible as evidence in limited form:

Kourtesis v. Joris (2007)

Leduc v. Roman (2009)

Wice v. Dominion of Canada General Insurance (2009)

These cases show that defence lawyers have successfully argued for the production and preservation of this ‘private’ information in some capacity.

In 2011, an Ontario Superior Court Justice ordered production of a plaintiff’s social media photos in the case, Morabito v. DiLorenzo. This was a motor vehicle accident case. Justice James A. Ramsay ruled that only photographs were relevant evidence, but not status updates or wall posts. The plaintiff was also ordered to re-attend examination for discovery to answer questions about the photos posted on Facebook and other social networking sites.

In these cases, it is about what content is relevant, and what the defense can prove is relevant to the case. The ruling judges must find the content is relevant to the issues in the case.

Another issue that arises is whether or not the plaintiff or claimant has to preserve his or her Facebook site (not allowed to delete any posts or tweets).

What happens if the content of a plaintiff’s social media profile is not relevant to the case?

In Schuster v. Royal and Sun Alliance (2009), the defence lawyers did not provide enough evidence to show the plaintiff’s Facebook profile contained relevant information. The plaintiff did not have to produce or preserve her Facebook page.

The area of social media law is still emerging. In terms of case law, decisions can go either way, so there is no clear direction as of yet.

When it comes to decisions from the Financial Services Commission, there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction either. A January 2011 decision, Prete and State Farm, found that the relevance of images (video posts and pictures) posted on a Facebook did not have enough relevance when weighed against other factors such as sensitivity and practicality. The arbitrator declined State Farm’s request for the productions.

In Rakosi and State Farm, the arbitrator ordered that the applicant produce photos of herself from Facebook and hi5 sites. The request from State Farm met the test for a “semblance of relevance”.

Plaintiff’s lawyers have to advise clients of the potential for social media sites to be used as surveillance. A good idea is to set this out in your initial letter to the client, and to remind them of this when preparing them for discoveries.

In the News: Spinal Cord Injuries and Depression

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

At Aaron Waxman and Associates, we handle personal injury claims including long-term disability claims that involve serious spinal cord injuries and chronic pain cases.

A new study emerging out of Toronto’s Krembil Neuroscience Centre suggests that victims of spinal cord injuries who undergo surgery within 24 hours are less likely to suffer paralysis. The actual timing of treatment for victims of spinal cord injuries can have a significant impact on the eventual outcome of their recovery.

Important findings from the study also show that a patient is twice as likely to experience a “major neurological recovery” when they have surgery within a day of their injury. The importance of a quick surgery is to ease pressure on the injured spinal cord according to doctors.

Lead study author and neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Fehlings states, “The differences that we are seeing with early decompression surgery are very significant and the results have a major impact on a person’s life…We are seeing about 1 in 5 people walking away from an injury they might not have otherwise…”

A new study confirms what researchers have long suspected: migraines and depression often appear together. This means the risk of developing depression is 40% higher for women who suffer from migraines. The study was conducted out of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Some researchers believe their is a biological connection, while others believe it is a quality of life issue.

Could hyperactivity in the brain explain the multiple symptoms of depression? Depression brings with it a variety of symptoms including anxiety, poor appetite, memory changes, concentration issues as well as sleep disturbances. A depressed brain has increased connections among the different areas of the brain; too many connections are happening at once, according to a recent study published in the journal PLoS One The brain must be able to regulate its connections in order to properly function.

The study’s author, Dr. Andrew Leuchter, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA says,  “The brain must be able to regulate its connections to function properly…The brain must be able to first synchronize, and then later desynchronize, different areas in order to react, regulate mood, learn and solve problems.”

The NFL ‘Concussion Fallout’ is raising some red flags for NASCAR.  NASCAR Drivers are certainly not immune to concussions and some drivers worry what can happen to them after sustaining multiple concussions. Since 2001, NASCAR officials have been taking steps to improve the way they handle concussions on the track, particularly since Dale Earnhardt’s death. Drivers like Michael Waltrip who have suffered the likes of 10 concussions hear stories of what is happening in the NFL and start to worry about the consequences of repetitive brain injuries. He states “I would be the perfect case study to see what’s going to happen…”

In terms of safety today, drivers must wear a head and neck restraint,  and race track walls have impact-absorbing ‘SAFER’ barriers installed and NASCAR completely redesigned race cars to reduce the risk of injury. Now racing seats now look like something out of a spaceship, with foam-padded supports on each side of the helmet that barely allows a driver’s head to move during a crash.


In the News: Brain Injuries

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Aaron Waxman and Associates recently became a Gold Sponsor of the Brain Injury Association of Peel and Halton (BIAPH). As a law firm that has experience with brain injured clients and brain injury litigation, we will be dedicating some of our blog postings to discussing the prevention of brain injuries, brain injury awareness and brain injury news articles.

According to a recent press release, on the Wall Street Market Watch site, a newly developed drug called Clazosentan has shown some promise in treating traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury causes a decrease in blood flow in the cerebrum of the brain, and this, if prolonged causes permanent cell dysfunction and death. A receptor in the brain known as “endothelin receptor” contributes to the restriction of blood flow as early as four hours after a brain injury. Clazosentan is thought to block these endothelin receptors from restricting blood flow. When the drug was given to rats with brain injuries, it was seen that it was most effective 2 hours after injury, with a second dose at 24 hours.

Looking to the world of sports, MSN Health posted an article entitled “Good Football Helmet Fit Key to Preventing Brain Injuries“. Studies show there is no such thing as a concussion proof-helmet, however, a good helmet might help reduce the loss of consciousness that follows a hit to the head. Study author Dr. Joseph Tong from Temple University in Philadelphia revealed that in cases where study subjects suffered a concussion but were wearing a helmet, 82% did not suffer a loss of consciousness.

Some tips to remember (courtesy of

  • Players’ eyes should be visible.
  • Helmet ear holes should line up with players’ ears.
  • Cheek pads should sit next to the skin, without a big gap.
  • The back of the skull should be covered.
  • Mouth guards should stay in mouths. They should fit past the second molar on both sides. Molded mouthguards are better  because that helps absorb the shock when players get hit in the head.
  • A helmet shouldn’t shake or rattle; it should stay neutral. If you grab the facemask and the chin strap is tightened up all the way, you should not be able to move the facemask left or right.
  • Find out if helmets are re-certified every year. One way you can tell: there should be a sticker at the back of the helmet with the year.

Also in the news was a recent development regarding depression.

What if Depression could be diagnosed through a blood test? It might help reduce stigma associated with depression and encourage people to get treatment. It could help promote new treatments too. Depression is usually diagnosed in a psychological manner (questionnaire), but a new study has shown that blood tests can diagnose depression. The study is published in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry and describes how blood tests were screened for 9 biomarkers associated with symptoms of depression.

Traumatic Brain Injuries have been referred to as a Silent Epidemic. A local study in Virginia is interested in how the brain functions throughout the course of an injury and tracking how it heals. Doctors find it difficult to accurately diagnose TBI as tests are not precise enough. This new study from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute wants to use MRIs to see how the brain heals from concussions. The idea is to take images of the brain as soon as possible after injury and keep following up. A functional MRI machine would be used. This machine demonstrates changes to brain reactions when the subject is thinking, reacting, etc.