Many of us — myself included — view YouTube mostly as a source of hilarious videos and concert footage from favorite bands. But a study published Monday afternoon shows a different, decidedly more useful potential purpose for videos posted online.
Reporting in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), researchers from the universities of Michigan and California found that readily accessible YouTube videos demonstrating a simple means of treating a common cause of vertigo are by and large accurate and apparently helpful to those who view them.
The researchers found that of 3,319 videos they located by using common search terms such as “dizziness,” 33 showed how to administer the Epley maneuver, a simple (though, according to the paper, underused) manipulation of the head that is an effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. BPPV occurs when particles become trapped in the semi-circular canal in the inner ear. The Epley maneuver involves turning the head a certain way to dislodge those particles. Of those videos, 64 percent accurately depicted how to perform the procedure.
The authors found it encouraging that the most highly viewed video demonstrating the Epley maneuver (with 802,471 hits) was one created by the AAN and posted by an individual apparently not affiliated with that group. In reviewing viewers’ comments, the researchers found many reports of the maneuver being used successfully to relieve people’s vertigo. They also saw evidence in those comments of health-care providers having recommended their patients consult such videos to learn the technique.
Have you used YouTube for health-care purposes? How, and with what results?