Popular video-sharing websites often are at the forefront of creating media sensations – but normally viral videos are not known to be helpful in the traditional sense. In fact, of the top six YouTube videos of all time, the first is Justin Bieber's "Baby." Of the remaining five, four are also for music videos; the fifth is the once ubiquitous "Charlie Bit My Finger."

But medical professionals are finding use in video-sharing sites as well. An article published in the journal Neurology reports that YouTube videos are helpful in treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV.

This type of vertigo is common, thought to be caused by loose calcium carbonate deposits moving around in the inner ear canal. Normally, the annoying condition is treated with the advice to just "wait it out" or with medication, but a procedure does exist to treat it – the Epley Maneuver, where the patient reclines in various directions in order to alleviate the pressure of the inner ear. And, while sufferers of the condition may not be aware, accurate videos exist on YouTube in order to educate BPPV sufferers and healthcare professionals.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, University of Arizona, and University of California Los Angeles, led by Dr. Kevin A. Kerber, MD, spent a day searching for YouTube videos that demonstrated the entire Epley Maneuver. They found a total of 33 YouTube videos displaying the maneuver, with total hits for all the videos amounting to over 2 million.

According to the abstract, "Five of the videos accounted for 85% of all the hits. The maneuver demonstration was rated as accurate in 64% (21) of the videos. Themes derived from the 424 posted comments included patients self-treating with the maneuver after reviewing the videos, and providers using the videos as a prescribed treatment or for educational purposes."

The video providing the most video hits was the one provided by the American Academy of Neurology. Kerber said that he was pleased that a majority of the videos provided the proper technique.

There was one shortcoming that Kerber found with the videos – none of the videos provided tools for diagnosis of BPPV, so some of the people imitating the technique may have had vertigo caused by a different source.

Below is the AAN-developed video.