Patient Perspective

Tips for Attending Events

Article Summary

Attending events can be a challenge for vestibular patients because of movement, lighting, and distance from stable anchors such as walls. This can impact a person’s social life and overall quality of life. This article provides tips for attending events.

Take Back Your Social Life

A person with a vestibular disorder is easily fatigued when sorting out vision and balance signals in expansive areas – even those that are quiet and calm. This effort becomes daunting in noisy and busy environments such as in large “box” stores, at crowded sporting events, in theaters, or even while navigating city sidewalks with other pedestrians. Such conditions make it difficult for a person to rely on visual clues about balance and movement while attending events because everything is moving, lighting isn’t ideal, and stable anchors such as walls are far away.

This affects the quality of a person’s social, work, and family relationships because it forces you to make unsatisfactory choices. For example, you may need to choose between attending your child’s soccer game and fixing dinner for the family after the game, because standing on the sidelines watching the team run back and forth is so overwhelming that you “rise to the occasion” during the game, but collapse as soon as it is over. You don’t want to disappoint your child by not appearing at his game, and at the same time, you need to reserve enough energy to feed him at the end of the day and catch up with the rest of the family.

Here are a few tips to help you attend events in challenging environments.

Tips for attending events:

  • Use a cane to provide you with additional proprioceptive (touch) information about where you exist in space. Urban walking poles are another alternative, especially if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself.
  • Pack a fold-up stool or canvas chair in the trunk of your car to use when needed at outdoor events. Make sure it is sturdy enough to sit on without falling over, but light enough to carry if you have to walk a distance. Some folding chairs come with carrying cases and/or have backpack straps built in.
  • If you are at a sporting event, sit at one end of the field/coliseum rather than on the sidelines. This will help you avoid turning your head back and forth as the team travels up and down the field. Instead, you’ll be keeping your head steady while watching the team run to or away from you.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim to calm light and movement.

Do you have other tips that help you attend events? Let us know!