Viral videos on YouTube used to treat vertigo


As it turns out, YouTube videos can do a lot more than just go viral. In fact, a new study suggests that certain footage on the tubular site can subsist as effective alleviants for specific types of vertigo.

Available for scrutiny in the July 24 issue of the journal Neurology, the study’s primary concern revolved around benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a perpetrator of dizziness originating along the channels of the inner ear. When calcium carbonate crystals shimmy from their confined state, oftentimes they migrate into the sensing tubes at the ear’s core and effectuate destabilization. By employing a technique known as the Epley maneuver, gravity seizes the crystals and propels them into an alternative ear chamber where symptomatic response will not be activated.

Although this process for righting BPPV appears modest enough, most patients are not cognizant of it and thus, many vertigo sufferers continue to evade equilibrium. According to researchers, accurate video demonstrations on YouTube are putting an end to such discrepancy in a fashion that not only balances the individual, but their checkbook as well.

"The Epley Maneuver is, indeed, an effective treatment for BPPV [and] a 'do-it-yourself' video may increase the number of patients treated, " said Ronald Kanner, MD, chair of neurology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, and North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

One of the most fruitful displays of the Epley maneuver hails from the American Academy of Neurology; it was posted on the video database by a lay-person following the feature’s 2008 inception. Despite a number of the videos demonstrating the maneuver accurately, most experts are still adamant that patients seek physician diagnosis if their symptoms prove particularly severe.

"One shortcoming of the videos was that they did not include information on how to diagnose BPPV, and some of the comments indicate that people who do not have BPPV may be trying these maneuvers because of dizziness from other causes," said Kevin Kerber, MD, of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.  "Despite this, we found it encouraging to think that YouTube could be used to disseminate information about this maneuver and educate more people about how to treat this disorder."

Some safety concerns also arise for patients performing the maneuver solo Kanner added.

“For a procedure to be effective, the diagnosis needs to be made correctly and the treatment applied appropriately,” he said. “While the authors helpfully describe what is likely to become a significant trend, we must exercise caution in self-diagnosis and self-treatment. Furthermore, patients may experience extreme dizziness, following the procedure and it should not be done without a watchful eye to protect the patient."

The consensus among officials was that YouTube and physicians meet somewhere in the middle. The report proposed that providers use the videos on YouTube as educational tools during office visits as a means to heighten patient satisfaction by providing a prescription that is free and easy to obtain. 

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