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CASE STUDIES:Dizziness/Vertigo

Please note: Case studies summarizing patientsí responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.

Female, Age 37, Vertigo, Labyrinthitis

*** TESTIMONIAL ***

"For nearly seven years, I had been living with miserable symptoms that drastically changed how I lived my daily life. There was no obvious injury so it was frustrating to understand what might be going on with my body. Initially, I did seek out traditional medical consults from family doctors, neurologist, ENT, but at the end of all the testing nothing was explaining my symptoms and therefore no cure. My symptoms included dizziness especially if I moved my head quickly, loss of balance when walking, decrease coordination, nausea which accompanied the dizziness, visual disturbances i.e. increase sensitivity to light and noise, difficulty reading words, visual distortions, lack of concentration, word finding problems, pin and needles sensation at my arms and l egs. I had some pain in my neck area but managed that with advil and massages. The relief lasted only 3 weeks at a time. Experiencing all of these symptoms made basic activities such as grocery shopping, watching a basketball or baseball game, raking in the garden very difficult and miserable. I always felt like my head was not attached to my body. I knew it had to be something involving my neck but it seemed like the physicians were not interested in looking into this area. I decided I needed to find a specialist so I began my search on the internet. Fortunately, I found Dr. Elster on the internet. After reading what her consult and treatments consisted of I knew I had finally found someone who could help me. I made an appointment for the evaluation. Upon her evaluation, she found I did have a 3 mm shift to the right at my upper cervical vertebrae. It has been three months now and after one adjustment to my upper cervical vertebrae my symptoms have decreased by 95%. I feel like I finally have my life back and donít dread going about my day. I SO appreciate the work Dr. Elster provides and canít express enough thanks for her skills! " M.C., Age 37

Female, Age 46, Vertigo

*** TESTIMONIAL ***

"In June 2005 I began my upper cervical care with Dr Erin Elster DC in Boulder, Co. We googled the phrase cevicogenic vertigo and found her very informative website. Six months prior to this in January of 2005 I had two very traumatic falls. First I slipped on black ice in a parking lot while I was in my ski boots carrying my skis and poles. I slipped so quickly that my feet flew straight up in the air and I landed extremely hard on my left shoulder, back and neck area. I lifted my head before it hit the ground and I felt my head compress into my shoulders. I gathered my things and went skiing, shocked that nothing was broken. The next day skiing, I skied in a trough and ejected from my skis, flipped over and landed on top of a mogul on the upper left thoracic area of my back. Double whammy!! And I still skied for the rest of the day. At this time in my life I was a 46 year old athletic female, part time ski instructor and full time jail deputy in the small Aspen, Co county jail. I hiked, biked, kayaked, skied and participated in all the mountains have to offer. Two weeks after my falls with only minor stiffness in my neck and shoulder I started to experience dizzy spells. As days went by I continued to have additional symptoms and more severe debilitating issues. My symptoms were:
-- Extreme dizziness- would even wake me out of a sound sleep
--
Nausea Ė I was unable to eat hardly anything lost 25 pds in 3-4 mos
-- Headaches- severe frontal and occipital
--
Difficulty swallowing
-- Numbness in left hand and left foot
-- Spinal spasms
-- Stiff neck and upper back with tingling and numbness
-- Unable to drive or ride in a car without become extremely dizzy and nauseous
-- Unable to shop at any type of store, blur of the lights, motions of people, were so overstimulating I had difficulty remembering anything; I usually ended up leaving the store without my groceries.
-- The motion of bending my head to read or look at a computer screen also made me dizzy and nauseous.
-- Had trouble sitting in chairs, was comfortable lying down completely flat or standing.

By the time February 2006 rolled around I was unable to work and could barely leave the house. Here is a list of medical people I saw: 2 general chiropractors, 1 General Practioner, 2 orthopedic spine doctors, 2 physical medical doctors, 3 neurologists (1 diagnosed cervigenic vertigo, 1 had no answers for me, 1 diagnosed post concussive head injury), 1 acupuncturist, 1 pain management doctor, multiple IMS treatments (type of acupuncture), Physical therapy (soft tissue work). I had also been given the following medications: 2 cervical spine steroid injections, Tizandine, Trazodone, Oxycodone, Ativan, Vicodin, and ambien. None of these treatment or doctors helped me.

By the time I visited Dr Elster in June 2006 I was still experiencing all of my symptoms. During her initial consultation, precision x-rays showed the misalignment of my C-1 (atlas) 4mm so Dr. Elster performed an adjustment it (it was a slight force but nothing painful and does not involve any twisting.) Her confidence and knowledge about my injury was reassuring and I finally felt someone understood and believed me and my symptoms. I broke down and cried and Dr. Elster assured me with time I would be better. At this point I needed to be checked a couple of times a week, so I stayed with friends in Boulder (the drive back and forth from Aspen to Boulder was detrimental to my healing. The motion of the car and turny mountain roads were counterproductive.) For the next 6 weeks, I started to slowly improve. In September I left Boulder and returned home. I was now able to check in with Dr Elster on a weekly basis and able to tolerate the ride as a passenger. My exercise level was increasing and my symptoms were subsiding. This appears to be the only medical treatment along with soft tissue work that improves my health. Dr Elster's training and professionalism is outstanding. She is to be commended on her availability and patience. Many a time I called to cry on her shoulder and she was always there to reassure me. Dr. Elster frequently answers her own phone and promptly returns calls. Her website is very helpful. If not for these adjustments I am not sure where I would be right now, possibly still lying on my yoga mat staring at the tree tops. I am currently skiing and hiking and life is getting better, again! I believe upper cervical adjustments could help more people with head and neck injuries." M.S., Age 47

Male, Age 33, Headaches, Vertigo, Blurred Vision, Neck Pain

This 33-year-old male was rear-ended in an auto accident 5 years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. After the accident, he felt his neck stiffen up and he suddenly required glasses to read due to blurred vision. Prior to the accident, no visual problems were reported. Three years later, he reinjured his neck when his neck suddenly spasmed to the point that he could not turn his head. He began suffering from a number of new symptoms including headaches, dizziness, worsening of his visual acuity and increased blurring, pain shooting down his right arm, loss of balance and coordination, "cracking" sounds in his neck, muscle twitches in his left leg, pressure at the base of his skull, and pain between his shoulder blades.

During his upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which most likely stemmed from his auto accident. After the first upper cervical adjustment, he reported a substantial improvement in all of his symptoms. Within one month, all of his symptoms were greatly improved. By two months, all symptoms were absent, including the blurred vision and the need for glasses. After his neck stabilized, he reported feeling the best he had felt in 2 years!

Female, Age 21, Migraine Headaches, Dizzy spells, Depression

This 21-year-old female had been suffering from 3-6 migraines per week and approximately 3 dizzy spells per week for the previous few years. She also had been suffering from depression. She had fallen and suffered a concussion 5 years prior and felt as though her health had deteriorated since that fall.

During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which perhaps could have been caused by the fall that also caused the concussion. After the first upper cervical adjustment, she reported noticing her symptoms improve. Within a few months, all symptoms were absent and she was able to discontinue all medications.

Female, Age 60, Vertigo, Tinnitus

This 60-year-old female suffered from her first episode of vertigo six weeks before seeking help from upper cervical care. During this episode that lasted about one day, she was very dizzy and she threw up. Her second attack occurred one week later and was much worse; she was unable to work and went to the emergency room. MRI was negative. Since those two severe episodes, she described feeling off-balanced and nauseated, especially when moving her head quickly. She also reported experiencing tinnitus (ear ringing) and pressure in her ears for the past 6 to 7 years, which got much worse once the vertigo started.

During her evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered. She did not recall experiencing any traumas that could have caused the injury but she did report feeling neck pain and stiffness during the past year. During the first month of care, she reported noticing the resolution of the daily dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, and ear congestion. In addition, she never experienced any further severe vertigo attacks.

Female, Age 41, Central Vertigo

This 41-year-old female suffered from severe vertigo for four months before seeking help from upper cervical care. She had been through many tests and had been diagnosed with central vertigo. She thought it might have had something to do with an old whiplash injury she had suffered from a car accident several years before. She had minor vertigo episodes following the car accident but never anything that had lasted this many months. The vertigo rendered her unable to work, drive, or do anything. Her symptoms included vertigo, neck pain, tinnitis, arms numbness, "foggy" headedness, and headaches. She described her symptoms as worsening when lying down or when looking up or down.

During her initial evaluation, a neck injury was discovered. After the initial upper cervical adjustment was administered, she reported on her next visit that the vertigo was greatly reduced in that she could lie down and look up and down without triggering any vertigo. A week later, she resumed working and driving. Her symptoms continued to resolve with continued treatment over several months until her neck injury had completely stabilized and all symptoms were absent.

Female, Age 29, Vertigo

This 29-year-old female suffered with vertigo for five years before seeking help from upper cervical care. She recalled that the first vertigo attack occurred two months following a bad fall snowboarding in which she hit her head and broke her wrist. She described her symptoms as fluctuating over the past five years, yet there were some events such as being sick or exercising hard that always triggered vertigo. In addition to feeling dizzy, she also felt ringing, stuffiness, and throbbing in her left ear during vertigo attacks.

During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that could have been caused by the snowboarding fall. She also recalled being involved in two auto accidents that preceded the first episode of vertigo, so the injury could have been caused by either of those as well. After the first upper cervical adjustment, she noticed the lessening of vertigo and ear symptoms. After three months of care, her neck injury stabilized and no further vertigo attacks occurred.

Male, Age 34, Severe Neck Pain, Headaches, Dizziness

This 34-year-old male was hit hard on the head by his garage door. One month later, he woke up with severe pain in his neck and base of his skull, headaches, and dizziness. He went to the emergency room and multiple tests were performed including MRI's, Xrays, and a spinal tap. He was told that his tests were normal and he was prescribed heavy doses of pain killers including vicadin, which did not alleviate his pain. After seeing a neurosurgeon, who told him there was nothing that could be done, he saw another neurologist, who prescribed more pain medications and steroid anti-inflammatories. His pain was rated as a 5 or 6 on the 1-10 scale daily and the pain medications weren't working. Finally, he took Imitrex, which lessened the pain somewhat, so he took one every morning and one every night. He eventually sought help from a naturopath who referred him for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.

At the time of his initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, he had suffered from daily neck pain, headaches, and dizziness for six straight weeks. During his evaluation, an injury in his upper neck was discovered, which had likely stemmed from the blow to the head by the garage door. Within a month of care, all of his pain, headaches, and dizziness were absent. Months later, his condition remained stable and no symptoms were reported.

Female, Age 42, Benign Positional Vertigo

This 42-year-old female suffered from vertigo for one year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. She underwent numerous tests and was told she had a fluid imbalance in her left ear. The vertigo occurred most frequently when she turned her head to the left, when she flexed her head forward, and when she extended her head. She had continuous trouble with vertigo and the only medical answers were to attempt some balance exercises during vertigo attacks. She claims these exercises rarely lessened the vertigo episodes.

During her upper cervical chiropractic evalution, an upper neck injury was discovered that was causing the vertigo. She recalled several accidents that could have caused the neck injury including an auto accident, a ski accident, and a fall. All accidents had occurred within 5 years prior to the vertigo onset. Within one month of upper cervical chiropractic care, all vertigo was absent.

Female, Age 29, Vertigo, Labyrinthitis

This 29-year-old female suffered from vertigo for two years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. Her initial attacks resulted in visits to the emergency room where the physicians gave her medications for seasickness. Eventually it was discovered that she had hearing loss in her left ear and she was diagnosed with labyrinthitis. She also complained of pain in her neck and back that had occurred for at least seven years.

During her upper cervical chiropractic evalution, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to past traumatic events that could have caused the neck injury, she recalled several falls during skiing, snowboarding, and rollerblading, as well as one incident where a hammer fell on her head. After the initial upper cervical adjustment, the vertigo and hearing loss lessened. Within a few weeks, all evidence of vertigo was absent.

Female, Age 26, Vertigo, Neck Pain, Headaches, Back Pain

This 26-year-old female was standing on a chair in her storage shed reaching for an item on the top shelf when she fell backwards off the chair and hit her head. She took most of the blow on the left side of her body and the left side of her head. She immediately began experiencing headaches. Three weeks later, she started experiencing vertigo, which began chronic. She also experienced pain in her neck and back. During her upper cervical chiropractic exam, an upper neck injury was discovered which probably stemmed from the blow to her head from the fall. After only a single upper cervical adjustment, all headaches, vertigo, neck pain, and back pain healed within two weeks and never returned.

Female, Age 51, Dizziness, Labyrinthitis, Hearing Loss, Ear Congestion

This 51-year-old female suffered from her first dizzy spell in the early 80's while flying on a plane. She had a cold at the time and her ears did not adjust to the altitude. Her ears filled with fluid and she had them drained by puncturing her eardrum. Unfortunately, the clogged ears returned and she became plagued by dizzy spells and congestion and was forced to take Drixoral on a daily basis to keep the congestion down. She also suffered from hearing loss as a result of the congestion. Prior to the first dizzy spell, she was involved in an auto accident in which she sustained enough injury to her neck to require a month's hospitalization. She suffered from chronic congestion and frequent dizzy spells for ten years.

At her initial chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was found, most likely resulting from her auto accident. Once her initial upper cervical adjustment was administered, she never again suffered a single dizzy spell. She also reported that the ear congestion cleared so she stopped taking daily decongestants. Her hearing improved and her ears adjusted to the altitude during flying. She remained symptom-free ever since.

Male, Age 50, Dizziness, Ear Congestion, Sinus Headaches

This 50-year-old male was involved in an auto accident in 1986. One year later, he experienced a stiff neck, fatigue, dizziness, ear congestion, and ringing in his ears. The symptoms came and went for the first three months after the accident. Finally they became constant, and were aggravated during flying. He tried many types of decongestants but the problems persisted for over a decade. Medical doctors had no answers for him.

During this patient's upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was found, possibly resulting from the auto accident he had experienced over a decade prior. During the first two months of upper cervical care, his symptoms decreased dramatically and occurred less often and less severe. Several months later, he was symptom-free, the first time in years.

Female, Age 51, Dizziness, Labyrinthitis, Hearing Loss, Ear Congestion

This 51-year-old female suffered from her first dizzy spell in the early 80's while flying on a plane. She had a cold at the time and her ears did not adjust to the altitude. Her ears filled with fluid and she had them drained by puncturing her eardrum. Unfortunately, the clogged ears returned and she became plagued by dizzy spells and congestion and was forced to take Drixoral on a daily basis to keep the congestion down. She also suffered from hearing loss as a result of the congestion. Prior to the first dizzy spell, she was involved in an auto accident in which she sustained enough injury to her neck to require a month's hospitalization. She suffered from chronic congestion and frequent dizzy spells for ten years.

At her initial chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was found, most likely resulting from her auto accident. Once her initial upper cervical adjustment was administered, she never again suffered a single dizzy spell. She also reported that the ear congestion cleared so she stopped taking daily decongestants. Her hearing improved and her ears adjusted to the altitude during flying. She remained symptom-free ever since.

*** TESTIMONIAL ***

"After the better part of a decade, I've been able to stop taking a daily decongestant thanks to Dr. Erin Elster. About 10 years ago I began having dizzy spells, possibly the result of an earlier car accident that landed me in the hospital for a month with two fractured cervical vertebrae. Doctors, however, diagnosed me as having labyrinthitis and prescribed decongestants and anti-nausea medication. The decongestants kept the dizziness at bay, but each attempt to stop taking them resulted in catching colds, including stuffy ears and returned dizziness. I did not like the prospect of relying on a decongestant for the rest of my life, and became very excited when I heard the many successful results that Dr. Elster's patients were reporting. However, having had two fractured cervical vertebrae, I was not going to let just anyone mess with my neck. It is very reassuring for me that she measures my progress with her scanner and computer system, and gives me an adjustment only when I need it. I stopped taking the decongestants immediately after my first adjustment, and am elated that the dizziness has not returned. In the past eight months, I've taken a decongestant only two days because I caught a small cold and didn't want to fly with stuffy ears. It has been worth every mile that I travel to see Dr. Elster, and I am so thankful that she's been able to eliminate the dizziness and get me off decongestants. " Debbie, Age 51

Female, Age 38, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), Dizziness

This 38-year-old female started experienced TN pain for 3 years. It began with a "shock" sensation above her lip and eventually moved throughout the right side of her face and forehead. She was initially prescribed 200mg of Neurontin (nerve pain medication) and eventually increased up to 1800mg per day to try to reduce the pain. Even while taking 1800mg of Neurontin per day, she experienced excruciating pain on the right side of her face and forehead. She also experienced dizzy spells, ear ringing, and hearing loss on the right. Medical doctors had no answers other than to suggest surgery to possibly impact the involved nerves and blood vessels.

During this patient's upper cervical exam, a neck injury was found. When questioned at to possible traumatic causes of the injury from her medical history, she recalled experiencing a blow to her head shortly before the onset of the TN pain and her other symptoms. This blow to her head most likely caused the upper cervical injury. After several months of upper cervical care to correct the upper neck injury, she was pain-free, and gradually reduced her pain medication. The dizziness, ear ringing, and hearing loss were also absent after upper cervical care.

Female, Age 49, Dizziness, Chronic Fatigue

This 49-year-old female suffered from dizziness and chronic fatigue syndrome for 5 years. Both symptoms occurred on a daily basis. She tried many forms of therapy including chelation with hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C but showed the same high Epstein Barr titers in follow-up tests.

During her chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to possible traumatic events in her past that could have caused the neck injury, she remembered falling head over heels down her basement stairs approximately five years prior (the same time her symptoms started). She also was involved in an accident two years prior in which her car air bag deployed accidentally. After her first upper cervical adjustment, all dizzy spells stopped. She also noticed experiencing more restful sleep and better energy throughout the day. One month later, she had no reoccurrence of symptoms.

Female, Age 23, Migraine Headaches, Dizzy Spells

Three years prior to upper cervical chiropractic care, this 23-year-old female fell down a flight of stairs. One month after the fall, she started suffering from migraines and began having them regularly for three years. She also suffered from neck pain that was most severe upon extension. In addition, she experienced frequent dizzy spells that lasted for several seconds and caused her to bump into walls. She tried many drugs such as Prozac and pain medications and therapies such as biofeedback but nothing helped.

During her initial chiropractic exam, an upper cervical injury was found, perhaps stemming from her fall down the stairs. After two months of upper cervical care, she was free of migraines, dizziness, and neck pain.

Female, Age 28, Dizziness, Neck Pain

This 28-year-old female suffered from dizzy spells for approximately one year, and they had been increasing in frequency. Her neurologist ordered an MRI and there were no significant findings. She also suffered from neck and shoulder pain. Her medical history included an auto accident in which she was thrown forward against the windshield. Her symptoms (dizziness, neck pain, shoulder pain) began approximately one year after the auto accident.

During this patient's initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was found. After only being adjusted twice, she was free of dizziness and pain and remained symptom-free years later.

Male, Age 54, Dizziness

This 54-year-old male reported experiencing dizzy spells for approximately 8 years. The episodes started happening approximately 2-3 times a year increasing in frequency each year. The dizzy spells occurred multiple times per month, especially when turning his head to the right or when looking up. He became dizzy to the point where he feared falling over.

During his chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered. After 3 weeks of upper cervical care, the episodes of dizziness completely stopped and he could turn freely to the right and look up without discomfort.

Male, Age 62, Dizziness, Nausea

This 62-year-old male suffered from dizzy spells and nausea for approximately one year before seeking help from upper cervical care. The dizziness and nausea occurred most frequently when he tipped his head back or when turning his head from side to side. He also suffered from frequent headaches and sub-occipital neck pain. In addition, he noticed an increased incidence of fatigue in that he was unable to work as long as previously could.

During his initial chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to his medical history of any accidents that could have injured his neck, he recalled several falls and auto accidents in his past. After the first upper cervical adjustment, the dizzy spells, nausea, and headaches decreased in frequency and severity. One month later, all symptoms were absent and never returned.

Female, Age 28, Head Injury

While riding her bike, this 28-year-old female cyclist was hit by a motorcycle. She flew over her handlebars and landed on her head, causing a concussion. Her symptoms included dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, fatigue, nausea, spinal pain, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and loss of balance which all caused her to be out of work for the year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care.

During her intial evaluation, an upper cervical injury was found, most likely stemming from her head trauma. After several months of care, she returned to work due to increased ability to concentrate and increased energy and mental clarity. Her symptoms of dizziness and nausea were greatly reduced. Two years later, she occasionally has minor flare-ups but in general has the ability to exercise, work, balance family and friends, and lead a busy life.

*** TESTIMONIAL ***

"In March 1996, I was traveling downhill on my bicycle when a motorcycle came shooting out of the alley in front of me. The impact launched me some 20-30 feet and I landed on my head. I was wearing a helmet, and was extremely fortunate to be alive, but I was unprepared for what having a head and neck injury meant. It was like jumping from the age of 26 to 86 in a split second. I walked in circles trying to remember what I was doing. Stairs were difficult; reading was extremely difficult; crossing the street was frightening; I had trouble finding words; I had trouble organizing written thoughts; grocery stores were a nightmare; noise and commotion was painful and brought on nausea. But the most difficult part was that I had no energy and pushing myself in any way made me extremely sick. Trying to work a 40-hour week brought on symptoms. By Tuesday afternoon, I would feel so nauseous and my head would hurt so severely that all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide from the world. Any sort of exercise made me nauseous, faint, and unsteady. Where I had always been able to overcome any obstacle, I was running into a brick wall. Of course, colleagues and those medical personal unfamiliar with head injury all believed that I could get better if I wanted to, that this was all psychosomatic. But I had a sense that circulation or something was being blocked, so I kept looking for someone who could help. I first saw Dr. Elster in June. My x-rays showed that my top vertebrae were out of alignment. Having it adjusted made all the difference-- and my last adjustment held for 2 months. I am myself again. Exercise feels like it used to-- it brings me energy rather than draining it. I can balance career and home, and go to a restaurant, and see friends, all in the same week. I can't tell you how much it makes me smile to say this." Tania, age 28, November '97

Female, Age 50, Vertigo, "Disembarkment Syndrome"

This 50-year-old female suffered from chronic vertigo for 3 years. She had occasional episodes during the five years prior-one on a houseboat, another while riding an escalator. The ENT doctor performed many tests and located excessive fluid in her right ear and hearing loss. She also experienced frequent ear ringing and a fullness or plugged sensation in her ears.

After seeing many specialists, she was diagnosed with Meniere's disease but her diagnosis was later changed to "disembarkment syndrome" since her vertigo symptoms felt like she had just disembarked from a boat. Vertigo occurred on a daily basis with some days worse than others. Medical specialists had no treatment to offer her other than recommending practicing walking in a straight line, balancing with her eyes closed, or walking backwards. They also prescribed diuretics to try to reduce the fluid in her ear; however each subsequent hearing test showed a worsening in hearing loss. Often, she attempted to go running during vertigo episodes to practice her balance but became extremely nauseated. This patient also suffered from frequent neck pain for ten years. Consequently, her doctors recommended injections into her neck hoping her vertigo would be helped. While some of the neck pain lessened, there was no effect upon the vertigo.

During this patient's initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned about accidents in her medical history that could have caused the neck injury, she recalled 3 concussions from horse back riding in her past. One of the concussions, in which she was thrown head first into the ground off of her horse, caused convulsions and amnesia at the time. After her first upper cervical adjustment, the neck pain and vertigo episodes decreased in frequency and severity. She described herself as having "many good days in a row" without vertigo or neck pain episodes. Several months later, most of her symptoms were absent. Any episodes of vertigo or pain were mild and infrequent.

 

 
 
 

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