Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) due to canalithiasis can be treated with particle repositioning manoeuvres, which aim to evacuate trapped particles from the semicircular canals (SCC). The movement of particles within the SCC is affected by gravity as well as by the accelerations of the head during the manoeuvres. Moreover, as experienced by the particles, gravity is indistinguishable from an upward acceleration of the SCC in free space. We used a set of three orthogonal linear accelerometers to measure the net three-dimensional linear acceleration vector acting on the head during the Hallpike manoeuvre and Epley and Semont particle repositioning manoeuvres (which are used to treat posterior canal BPPV). The projection of the net acceleration vector onto the SCC planes showed that both the Epley and Semont manoeuvres approximated to stepwise, 360°, backward rotations in the plane of the targeted posterior canal. Angular velocity measurements however showed that the rotational component during the central stages of these two manoeuvres is opposite in direction. A simple model of head rotations during particle repositioning manoeuvres was created which showed good agreement to the linear acceleration measurements. Analysis of modelled and measured data identified that speed of movement during the Semont manoeuvre should be critical to its clinical success.

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