Study: YouTube Videos Can Help Combat Vertigo

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Arrested Development demonstrated the difficulty of procuring medical marijuana for the treatment of vertigo. A simpler way of dealing with the condition is now becoming a cult classic of its own -- with research to back it up.

PROBLEM: A simple and effective method of treating a common inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, the Epley maneuver is underused in routine care. Researchers identified YouTube videos providing information about conditions like this and set out to analyze just how accurate and helpful video demonstrations of the maneuver are.

METHODOLOGY: A simple YouTube search yielded 3,319 videos about the Epley maneuver, 33 of which actually demonstrated it. Videos were rated in terms of accuracy and by how viewers described using them in the comments section.

RESULTS: The videos, in total, had almost 3 million hits. The one with the most views was produced by the American Academy of Neurology, an authoritative source, but the majority of the videos demonstrated the Epley maneuver correctly. According to comments, viewers did indeed attempt to self-treat vertigo based on what they saw in the videos, and health care providers referred to the demonstrations as well.

CONCLUSION: Accurate demonstrations of the Epley maneuver are both available and widely used on YouTube. However, the videos did not contain information about how to correctly diagnose the type of vertigo that the Epley maneuver is used to cure, so people who are dizzy for a variety of other reasons might be attempting the wrong type of treatment.

IMPLICATIONS: YouTube can be an effective means of propagating effective public health information, including simple and effective do-it-yourself treatments for common conditions such as vertigo. (And of course it can still also teach you about honey badgers or how to Dougie.)

The full study, "A prescription for the Epley maneuver: www.youtube.com?" is published in the journal Neurology.

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Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon and a former writer and producer for The Atlantic's Health Channel.

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