July 23, 2012

YouTube is a go-to source for weird animal videos and music clips. But medical advice? Apparently so—at least when it comes to treating dizziness, or vertigo.

Neurologists prowling the popular video-sharing website have identified 33 videos that show how to perform the Epley maneuver, a simple procedure used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a common type of vertigo caused by tiny particles trapped in the inner ear.

In a study published today in the journal Neurology, the doctors determined that two-thirds of the videos were accurate in their portrayal of the procedure, which entails a sequence of sitting and standing positions along with eye and head movements designed to move particles trapped in one part of the inner ear, where they cause dizziness, into another part, where they do not.

The researchers were pleased to learn that the most popular video was produced by the American Academy of Neurology and demonstrates the organization's guidelines for the maneuver:

 

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Don't have a doctor or partner to help you? The second-most popular video shows how to do the same maneuvers unassisted:

 

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"A subset of patients may actually be able to self-diagnose and self-treat BPPV," the researchers say. Sure enough, comments posted with the videos indicate that they are already being used by healthcare providers and patients both. Although not all viewers found the demonstrations helpful, some actually called it a "miracle."

While falling short of Justin Bieber's Baby, which recently made news as the first video to reach half a billion hits, the various Epley maneuver videos have collectively earned a respectable 2.75 million views.

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