If you have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), you suffer from vertigo because the otoliths (small calcium crystals in your ear) have moved to the wrong area, and they're horribly distorting your perceptions of motion. And, in a clinical version of shaking the water out of your ear, you can knock them back into the right place.
The Epley maneuver consists of a specific set of ways to manipulate your head, to guide the otoliths back to their home — like a version of the wooden labyrinth game, but in your skull. By tilting your head in the prescribed way, the crystals should return to where they belong.
And with a comparatively straightforward treatment like this, it shouldn't be surprising that video guides to the technique have sprung up on YouTube, like the one above. According to a new study in Neurology, these videos were generally accurate, and just five videos accounted for some 85% of the hits on the topic.
"It was good to see that the video with the most hits was the one developed by the American Academy of Neurology when it published its guideline recommending the use of the Epley maneuver in 2008 and then posted on YouTube by a lay person," study author Kevin A. Kerber, MD said. "But it was also good that the majority of the videos demonstrated the maneuver accurately."
The study also points out that health professionals are using these YouTube videos to educate patients, and sufferers are using it on themselves.
While this is a great example of democratization of treatment, it does raise questions about people treating themselves based on what they find on YouTube. Sure, this one is relatively benign and easy to do at home, but what if the information was inaccurate? Or made things worse?
On the other hand, you can always use YouTube to induce vertigo like symptoms, if you're into that sort of thing.
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