Meet Thomas Richard-Vitton – the inventor of the Interacoustics TRV Chair

19 April 2023

Taking a ride in a chair that can spin 360 degrees in all directions can cure patients suffering from the invalidating dizziness form of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). In this article, you will meet Dr. Thomas Richard-Vitton – the inventor of the Interacoustics TRV Chair used at many hospitals and balance clinics to treat BPPV.

Thomas Richard-Vitton is an ENT surgeon at the French Clinic of Marignane – ENT and Balance Center, 7 km from Marseille in France. Not only has he dedicated his professional life to diagnosing and treating people with dizziness, but he also has a passion for engineering. A passion which led him to invent a tool for diagnosing and treating BPPV: the TRV Chair.

After completing his medicine studies in 1992, Thomas worked at a clinic together with other doctors until leaving the practice in 2000. At that time, he was – like many other balance doctors – using bedside testing to diagnose and treat BPPV.

Thomas often found a lack of efficiency with classical maneuvers with patients. “I found that patients improved with the normal bedside maneuvers, but patients would often still experience dizziness and unsteadiness in their balance after several treatments,” he says. Thomas thought there must be another and better way to handle these dizzy patients.

Even though he’s a Medical Doctor by profession, Thomas has always had a huge interest in engineering. “I loved my medicine studies, but I needed to earn money as well. So during my studies, I started repairing old cars and refurbishing them to earn money,” he explains.

This ‘side’ passion for engineering got him inspired to think differently.

“I imagined that some sort of mechanical assistance could be beneficial for testing and treatment,” he says. And around 2003, Thomas began his research to find out if some sort of mechanical assistance already existed on the market, but he did not find anything relevant that he could use.

Instead, Thomas started doing his own drawings of an armchair with two axels. Already at that point, it was important to Thomas that all kinds of patients – regardless of age and weight – would feel secure in the chair. Still today, one of the key benefits of the TRV Chair is that all patients regardless of age and weight can feel secure in the chair. “I contacted an engineer who could help me with the calculation to ensure that the chair was solid and that both motor and axels had enough strength to carry a grown-up of all sizes,” he explains.

Having the drawings in place, Thomas involved Airbus Industries, and one of their sub-contractors built a chair for him. The idea behind the TRV Chair – “the magic chair” as Thomas calls it – became a reality in 2003.


The design of the TRV Chair allows for maneuvers in difficult-to-treat patients, such as elderly or obese patients or patients with cervical or spinal problems.


“This was of course a first prototype. But I used it for about a year in my clinic. At the beginning, it was a bit nerve wrecking to offer this way of treatment to patients, but they soon accommodated to it, and I could see that it had an effect,” Thomas says.

After the first prototype, Thomas had more prototypes built, still advancing the design of the chair to make it easier to use and even more comfortable and efficient for patients.

At the same time in Denmark – early 2003 – Interacoustics had just employed their first person to help build up the balance product line: Joachim Hougaard, today a legend at Interacoustics.

Thomas and Joachim soon started a dialogue.

“We emailed each other a lot,” Thomas remembers. “Joachim is a clever guy, and we had many discussions on BPPV diagnostics and treatment. In 2005, Joachim visited me at my clinic in Aix-en-Provence and we started collaborative as well as commercial talks. That’s the beginning of a long history together.”

In 2012, Interacoustics – together with Thomas Richard-Vitton – invited 20 balance-interested ENT doctors to a vestibular workshop where real balance patients were put in the chair. In 2013, the first chair was installed at the Copenhagen Hearing and Balance Centre, a part of Rigshospitalet (the largest public and specialized hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark).

In his clinic, Thomas sees about 150 patients per week, of which 50 are dizzy patients. This is quite many, but there are still people on a waiting list who – according to Thomas – could benefit from more clinics offering treatment with the TRV Chair:

“The main benefit of the chair is that you use kinetic energy intake while rotating your patient 360 degrees along the plane of each semicircular canal. And you can lock the patient in any position. It’s safe for both the clinician and the patient,” he says.

Today, Thomas Richard-Vitton and Interacoustics gain from a mutual partnership. He often speaks and demonstrates the chair at events hosted by Interacoustics or at international conferences such as Bárány and IFOS.



After having distributed the TRV Chair since 2016, Interacoustics took over the manufacturing rights a few years later. The TRV Chair is now produced at Interacoustics’ production facilities in Poland and shipped to all parts of the world. There are approximately 150 TRV Chairs installed in the world. In Denmark, there are approx. 12 chairs for a population of 5.5 million people. In France, there are approx. 20 chairs for a population of 68 million. In the US, Interacoustics has just installed their fourth chair and demand is increasing.


The name of the TRV Chair – did you know

The TRV Chair is named after Thomas Richard-Vitton. But according to Thomas, the name also relates to Therapy, Rehabilitation, and Vertigo. And if you put it the other way around, you can perform Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy with the TRV Chair.

Charlotte Ellemose Sonne
Charlotte Ellemose Sonne is a Master of Linguistics and Communication (cand.ling.merc.), having graduated from Aarhus University in 2004. Before joining Interacoustics, Charlotte's working experience included, among other, a seven year stay at DONG Energy (now Ørsted) as a Language Specialist.

Published: 19 April 2023
Modified: 19 April 2023


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