Musical chairs not just for kids3/12/09

Local company producing platforms for health benefits

March 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

An ordinary chair placed on a specialized platform raised about a foot off the ground might not look impressive, but the hidden benefits are there. Or at least can be heard and felt.


    Courtesy photo
At Timbrephonics’ warehouse in Williston, chairs are set up on sound platforms to test the platforms’ vibroacoustics. The new company is selling the platforms, which use sound and vibrations to help people relax, to medical centers.  

A new Williston-based company, Timbrephonics, is looking to harness the power of sound and vibrations to aid medical care professionals. Co-owners David French and Ole Hansen have developed a new vibroacoustic device that sends musical vibrations through a patient to aid in relaxation, pain relief and overall wellbeing.

Vibroacoustics is a method of taking low-frequency sounds and using the vibrations to help administer positive emotional and physical effects.

French and Hansen have developed what they call a “sound platform,” in which a chair can be placed on a specially designed stand that maximizes vibrations.

French comes from a background in music and philosophy, and Hansen owns Hansen & Son in Shelburne, a piano refurbishing and tuning center. The international medical supply company, Laborie Medical Technologies, helped fund the creation of the sound systems and distributes the products all over the world. The company’s local offices are located on Avenue D.

As French explained, it’s not so much the chair as what’s beneath it. Timbrephonics’ platforms, made of red Adirondack spruce timber, are designed to gently pass vibrations from a speaker up through a chair. A tactile transducer speaker is installed in the middle of the platforms. Any chair will do, said French, but many medical offices use the platforms in conjunction with medical or massage chairs.

French said the main benefit of vibroacoustic therapy is relaxation. Easing a patient’s mind and body can help in physical therapy or surgery. Plus, vibroacoustics just makes you feel better, French added.

“It’s the feeling of (a platform) that stimulates that relaxation response,” French said. “If you have a patient relaxed, then you have the ideal patient.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also sings the praises of vibroacoustics. According to its Web site, the FDA considers vibroacoustic equipment as a class one medical device. Class one devices are low-impact medical instruments that provide patient care. The FDA also recognizes that vibroacoustic devices aid in relaxation, pain relief and in increasing blood circulation.

The National Institute of Health has also done studies in regards to vibroacoustics. In a 1999 study found on its Web site, 49 percent to 59 percent of cancer patients tested noticed a relief in different areas of pain.

“When you have stress and tension, that’s unhealthy,” French said. “Music has always helped to calm the nerves.”

The platforms don’t run cheap. French said a sound platform system costs between $3,500 and $4,500 depending on size and materials.

French and Hanson are also looking to expand the Timbrephonics business into the home entertainment field. At Hansen’s Shelburne store, an entertainment system is set up, complete with speakers, a flat screen television and a sound platform. Hansen believes the sound platforms will sell themselves once customers try them.

“A lot of people aren’t afraid of spending a lot of money on home entertainment,” Hansen said.

Currently, Timbrephonics has sound systems in several prominent hospitals and medical centers across the county, including Fletcher Allen Health Care’s Continence Center in South Burlington. There is also a home entertainment setup displayed at Creative Sound in Williston.

French said a Timbrephonics Web site is forthcoming, but interested parties can call him at 802-752-6574, or Hansen in his store at 985-8451 for more information.