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The Epley Maneuver is a technique which is used to treat Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This technique moves the patient through a series of positions which are designed to dislodge the debris in the ear which causes the vertigo. In around 70% of cases, the Epley Maneuver is very effective, and the patient may require no further follow up treatment. In other instances, additional positional therapy may be needed, or more aggressive treatments such as surgery may be required.
When the Epley Maneuver is conducted, the goal is to move the patient through a series of set positions which will loosen the debris in the ear and resolve the vertigo issue. Doctors strongly recommend that this be done in the office of a doctor or therapist, for several reasons. The first is that numerous health problems can cause vertigo, so it is important to make sure that the Epley Maneuver really is the best treatment for the patient. The second is that the ear behind the vertigo needs to be properly identified for the procedure to work, and it is also important to have a doctor present during the Epley Maneuver in case the patient experiences complications.
In this procedure, the patient is first seated on a treatment table, and his or her head is tilted by the doctor towards the “bad side” where the ear behind the problems is located. Next, the patient is rapidly pulled into a supine position, and held in place for around a minute before the head is tilted to the other side and held. Next, the patient rolls onto his or her side, holds the position for a minute, and then sits up suddenly. This cycle is repeated two more times.
During the Epley Maneuver, the patient usually experiences vertigo and dizziness, which is why the doctor is important, because he or she provides stability. After the procedure, the patient may be too dizzy to walk for several minutes, and doctors usually recommend that their patients get a ride home from a friend or family member. In the days immediately following the exercises, the head needs to be held vertical, and the patient needs to sleep in a semi-prone position. After around a week, the patient can start to engage in normal activities to see if vertigo develops.
At home, patients can use the Brandt-Daroff Exercises to manage vertigo. Some doctors may also show their patients how to do a home Epley Maneuver safely. Patients should not attempt to cure vertigo and dizziness with home exercises until they have determined the cause of the problem, as the Epley Maneuver will not resolve anything but a buildup of calcium carbonate crystals in the ear, and it can in fact complicate conditions such as tumors.