July 25, 2012

Prescription YouTube

By: Erika Dunayer, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Jenna Marbles, Charlie bit my finger, and Glozell —what do all of these things have in common? They are all YouTube phenomena. Now, research is showing watching YouTube videos could be a new way to show the treatment for a common cause of vertigo, which often goes untreated by physicians.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an inner ear disorder that is a common cause of dizziness. 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, and people are told to 'wait it out' or given drugs.

Researchers found that accurate video demonstrations of the maneuver that health care providers and people with vertigo can use are readily available on YouTube.

"I do worry however, that patients may be treating themselves with the Epley maneuver when in fact they actually do not have BPPV," Gary Gronseth, MD, FAAN, Professor of Neurology at the University of Kansas told Ivanhoe.

"In this case, there does not seem to be a large downside because, other than transient worsening of dizziness, doing an EM on a patient without BPPV should not make things worse. Indeed, for many patients a dramatic improvement after the EM could be construed as evidence they have BPPV. Ideally, however, treatment for a condition like BPPV should be done after the diagnosis is confirmed by a qualified clinician," Dr. Gronseth continued.

For the study, Dr. Kevin Kerber, MD, of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, and his colleagues searched YouTube for videos showing the Epley maneuver and rated their accuracy. They also reviewed the comments posted regarding the videos to see how the videos were used.

"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," Kerber was quoted saying.

"The availability of medically-related videos on Youtube speaks, of course, to the general trend of the increasing availability of medical information on the internet. Overall, I believe this is a good thing --but we need to be careful. How do we know if what we are watching or reading is actually correct," Dr. Gronseth questions.

"Of course, if you know a video or other internet content was produced by a reputable organization such as the American Academy of Neurology, your confidence regarding the accuracy of the information provided should be high. In many instances, it will be difficult to judge the information's validity," Dr. Gronseth concludes.

Results show that health care providers are using the videos as a prescribed treatment or to help patients learn about the maneuver. People with dizziness also seem to be using the videos to treat themselves.

Source: Interview with Gary Gronseth, MD, FAAN, Professor of Neurology at the University of Kansas and Neurology, July 23, 2012