For people with vertigo, watching certain videos on YouTube may help treat the condition, according to a new study.
Researchers reviewed more than 3,000 YouTube videos about vertigo treatments, and found 33 focused on the Epley maneuver, a technique aimed at preventing the dizziness that vertigo brings.
Of these videos, 64 percent accurately taught how to perform the maneuver, and therefore could be useful resources for people with a type of vertigo called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is caused by having free-floating particles trapped within a canal in the inner ear.
"This type of vertigo can be treated easily and quickly with a simple maneuver called the Epley maneuver, but too often, the maneuver isn't used," said study author Dr. Kevin Kerber, of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.
Sufferers of vertigo feel extremely dizzy due to the perception that the world is spinning around them.
The Epley maneuver, which can be performed in a few minutes at the edge of a bed, requires a patient to make a few short, timed movements with their head, in order to get the free-floating particles out of the inner ear canal.
Vertigo can also result from problems within the brain, reactions to various drugs or headaches. In these cases, the Epley maneuver cannot treat the condition.
The video with the most hits was developed by the American Academy of Neurology, of which Kerber is a member. Health care providers could promote such videos as a good treatment method, which could be preferable to other options such waiting for dizziness to abate on its own, or taking drugs, the researchers said.
One downside of the videos is that people could use the technique to treat themselves, and thus may decide not to consult a health care professional, which may be problematic if their dizziness is actually resulting from another cause.
The findings may change practice for some doctors. Dr. J. Kirk Roberts, who leads the Columbia University Center for Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance and was not involved in the study, said he would now like to add a link to the videos to the handout he gives to patients when teaching them the maneuver.
"I have seen animated videos of the maneuver on medical sites, and I think I should have realized that -- given that everything gets on YouTube -- they would have found their way," Roberts said.
Often, patients ask him to remind them how to do the maneuver, and the videos would be a good resource for them, Roberts said, though he cautioned against people attempting use the videos to diagnose themselves, as there are several causes of vertigo.
The study was published today (July 23) in the journal Neurology.
Pass it on: YouTube videos may offer a viable technique for teaching a treatment method for vertigo.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. ET on July 24 to include quotes from Dr. Roberts.