Bringing calm to rehab institutions: exclusive interview with Qwiek to learn how they do it

September 28, 2018

Many studies indicate music is a great tool to help people with their recovery. It can get patients back on track with tasks like walking by setting the right pace, but it can also help patients calm down by creating a relaxing environment.

And since this month Strokemark is all about relaxation, we decided to connect with some experts on this topic. We talked to our friend, Thilly, at Qwiek to learn about how they use music to bring calm to rehab institutions across the Netherlands.

What is Qwiek? Qwiek is a company that has developed a product to help elderly patients in care facilities. Originally, their product, Qwiek.up was designed to help people with dementia to calm down. It is a type of projector that combines both audio and visual to create a calming atmosphere for patients living in nursing homes. Since its original development, this intervention has been used not only for patients with dementia but also for disabled patients or patients with acquired brain injuries, like stroke.

We wanted to find out more about Qwiek.up and hear how it is using music to help patients relax. So we sat down with Thilly, one of the designers at Qwiek to learn more.

Learning from the experts how music can help people relax

Strokemark: How can music help to relax a patient?

Thilly: We are now looking at how music can help wind people down at night. The beat of the music should make their heart rate go down. Or sometimes music that someone recognizes can help. Even when a patient loses brain function, the music that they know stays.

Music can help tremendously to relax people and to create a state where they feel comfortable.

Strokemark: How can we recognize what music helps someone fall asleep? 

Thilly: To help a person fall asleep, the beats of the music need to decrease gradually. Typically, music that has 60-80 beats per minute promotes relaxation. A playlist designed to help patients fall asleep will contain songs within this range, maybe starting with songs that have 80 beats per minute and ending with songs that have 60 beats per minute.

Strokemark: Are the beats related to heartbeat?.

Thilly: Not directly, the heartbeat won’t sync to the music, but music with 60-80 beats per minute has been found to produce relaxation.

Strokemark: Are there special types of music that you use?

Thilly: Right now, a musical therapist picks the music based on the patient. In these cases, the playlist is personal. A therapist develops a program for a patient after a one-on-one session where she can see how the patient reacts to different styles.

But sometimes we use classical music for a bigger audience. We are currently conducting research so that we can develop more generalized playlists that can reach more patients.

Strokemark: How did the playlists that you have make it into your line?

Thilly: A lot were developed from what people would recognize, and some came from experiencing what people wanted, and then we created the context.

Strokemark: We know that Spotify offers playlists, like “Sleepify” to help people get to bed. Are there any tips you could give our users to create their own playlist to help them fall asleep?

Thilly: Yes, we actually do have a list of things that we look for:

  1. The volume has to be the same. There shouldn’t be any peaks in the music.
  2. The music should have little variation, meaning it should be predictable. If it changes when you don’t expect it to, it won’t calm you down.
  3. It should have steady rhythms.
  4. It should be warm and give you a good feeling. Therefore, no jarring sounds like trumpets.
  5. It should be between 60-80 beats per minute. In fact, there are apps available for finding songs like this or you can search on google for lists of songs that fall into this category.
  6. If you make a playlist, the beats per minute should decrease with each song, so you get into a more relaxed state over time.

Using music for your own recovery

The word qwiek means full of life and energy, healthy, fit, and vital. And so is the mission at Qwiek, helping to improve the well-being of patients by creating a calming environment and promoting space for recovery. So as you focus on your own relaxation this month, we hope you also think about how music can influence your daily life and rehabilitation.

What you can do with this information

Editorial note:

We asked an expert at Qwiek to tell us more about how music can help people relax. She was even able to reveal the list of things her company looks for when developing a playlist that promotes sleep. Read on to learn their secrets.

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