Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Practitioner Hannelie Kemp: “The Kuduwave Has Transformed My Work”

Neuro- and biofeedback practitioner Hannelie Kemp shares the benefits of using a Kuduwave portable audiometer and why she chooses it over a soundbooth.

“Essentially, as an audiometer, the Kuduwave brings innovation and a new way of hearing testing that is simpler and cheaper, but just as efficient as before. It is just a great technological advancement,” says Knysna-based neuro- and biofeedback practitioner Hannelie Kemp. “This highly portable device has completely transformed the way I do my work.”

We caught up with the early Kuduwave adopter to find out more about the value her Kuduwave portable audiometer has been adding to her practice, The Neuro Centre, since 2006. Hannelie also shares why she prefers using her Kuduwave over her traditional audiometric soundbooth when testing clients’ hearing.

Where did your interest in hearing healthcare originate from?

I’m a qualified neuro- and biofeedback practitioner and trainer. I received my training mostly in the US, working with children and teenagers with attention problems. I found that many children who had been diagnosed with ADHD actually suffer from hearing-related issues, which prompted me to pursue further training in this fascinating field.

At my practice, most people come in with pre-existing, hearing-related problems. Many patients come in for the first time for an annual hearing test. We then compare all their follow-up tests against that annual hearing test.

When did you first hear about, or come across the Kuduwave portable audiometer?

The first time I heard about the Kuduwave portable audiometer was at a hearing healthcare conference, where the ENT specialists, hearing aid acousticians and audiologists all come together once a year. I was just gobsmacked after learning about this revolutionary device. I immediately bought my first Kuduwave, and I’ve never looked back since.

What Kuduwave model do you use in your practice?

I use a Kuduwave Plus – it is an older model and the closest Kuduwave to it today would be the Kuduwave Prime. My Kuduwave amplifies sound up to 8000 Hz. An ordinary audiometer tests sound from 125 Hz up to 8000 Hz. Soon after I bought my first Kuduwave, another model became available, with an even greater range of 125 - 16 000 Hz. Of course I then also bought one of those for my practice!

Do you have a soundproofed audiometric booth at your practice?

I do have a soundproofed booth, but it is probably the biggest white elephant in Knysna. I literally never use it. Using my Kuduwave, I have no need for it.

Where have you found that your Kuduwave is especially useful in your practice?

My Kuduwave really enhances my clients’ testing experience. Wearing the Kuduwave, the client sits right opposite me, and I can have direct eye contact with them, which they find so reassuring.

In my work, I’ve realised that, in reality, a lot of people are quite daunted by a soundproofed booth. They don't like the separation from the clinician testing them.

Many people are also quite claustrophobic, so they don’t really like going into this small, cramped booth. This is why testing with a Kuduwave works so well for me and my clients. I can observe them while I am carrying out their hearing tests. This means I can see whether they are getting tired, or stressed out, and then I can be sure to help calm them down as the testing continues.

Quite a few of my older clients are starting to show signs of dementia. For them, it is especially important to maintain eye contact with their healthcare practitioner.

Would you recommend the Kuduwave to hearing healthcare practitioners, ENT specialists and audiologists who are just starting out in their careers?

If you are starting out with a new hearing healthcare practice, it will definitely be more cost effective to make use of a Kuduwave portable audiometer than a traditional soundbooth.

However, if you work with neonates, babies, small children, or people with physical disabilities, you will actually need a bigger soundbooth, where you as practitioner can sit with your client in the soundbooth. So, I think there is still a place for a soundproofed booth in some hearing healthcare environments. But in my practice, where I work with from teenagers to older people, my Kuduwave is absolutely perfect. Also, the fact that it is so highly portable.

Just this week I went to go see a patient in a retirement centre. She is on a constant oxygen supply, so there is just no way she can come into my practice for a hearing test. I spent about 40 minutes testing her with my Kuduwave, and it all went very well. The patient was really comfortable and happy.

What is your main motivation for using a Kuduwave portable audiometer in your practice?

My main motivation is patient comfort. Secondly, I can go out to patients and test them in their own homes, and also go to them to carry out reassessment tests when they are needed.

What Kuduwave feature do you appreciate the most?

I really like my Kuduwave’s automatic testing function. You simply position the device, and then you can just relax and observe the patient while the testing is carried out automatically.

Another Kuduwave feature I really like is the Speech Recognition functionality. This is where my clients have to repeat a word spoken into their ear by a pre-recorded voice. Previously, when I used to read words to clients for this type of testing, clients sometimes couldn’t hear the words all that well, because of my accent. But now, with the Kuduwave’s Speech Recognition function, they longer have that problem.

How user-friendly do you find the Kuduwave’s software and user interface?

I find my Kuduwave’s software and user interface extremely easy to use. How the Kuduwave operates is completely different from your standard audiometer. As the clinician, in a way, you almost feel like you’re not doing enough. Using a Kuduwave, you can really relax and just observe your client. The Kuduwave really makes carrying out hearing tests incredibly easy.

What are your impressions of the Kuduwave’s sound-blocking capabilities?

Unfortunately there is the misconception out there that the Kuduwave’s sound-blocking capability is not as effective as a soundbooth. This is so incorrect, because the Kuduwave blocks sound very efficiently. If you put a client in a soundbooth for testing, it is also not completely silent. There are still sounds outside the booth that they will be able to hear. It’s the same testing using a Kuduwave. Testees can still hear some ambient noises, but these noises are exactly the same as what you would hear with a sound booth.

Are you aware of the misconception that the Kuduwave is only a screening audiometer?

Yes, I’m aware that there is a common misperception out there that the Kuduwave is only a screening audiometer.

I think this is because the Kuduwave is so user-friendly. It almost seems impossible that this little portable audiometer is going to do the same job as an audiometer that comes with headphones and an audiometric soundbooth that will cost you a small fortune.

With a screening audiometer, you can only do air conduction, but my Kuduwave can do bone conduction and speech recognition, as well as a number of other tests that I don’t even use in my work.

But I like that, through my Kuduwave, these tests are available to me, and that I have the option to use them, should I want to. The Kuduwave is just so versatile.

What are your impressions of the Kuduwave’s portability & ease of use?

The portability of the Kuduwave makes it absolutely ideal for use in rural or outlying areas, or anywhere outside of a practice or clinical setting, really. The most wonderful thing about this device is that it is so simple to use, you don't even need a hearing healthcare professional to carry out the testing. A nursing sister or a teacher can even carry out the test, and then a professional hearing healthcare practitioner can simply interpret the results. An audiologist can then decide on the next steps, be it a referral to an ENT specialist, or whatever steps they feel might be necessary.

What are your thoughts on the Kuduwave’s telemedicine or tele-audiology functionality?

I think it is incredible that the Kuduwave has been designed to have telemedicine or tele-audiology functionality. Telemedicine is a wonderful concept, and it does work, but, in my opinion, it also takes a very strong team to drive it. People are creatures of habit, they tend to want to just go on doing things the way they’ve always done them. When it comes to tele-audiology, a lot of education and training for hearing healthcare professionals will be required.

The Kuduwave has been referred to as a med-tech disruptor. Would you agree with this statement?

Yes, I would. The team who developed the Kuduwave have actually created quite a challenge for themselves. Us humans are a funny bunch. There are so many things we do, or keep doing, simply because “it’s always been done this way”. And we tend to prefer complexity over simplicity.

For some reason, when a new product comes along that is easier to use, and also cheaper than its predecessor, we automatically think “oh, it must be an inferior product”. In truth, the Kuduwave is a proudly South African product, designed by a medical doctor who has won awards for his inventions.

Unfortunately, since inventing the Kuduwave portable audiometer, a true med-tech disruptor, eMoyo seems to keep coming up against this attitude of “but this is the way it’s always been done, it’s been good enough all this time, why is it suddenly not good enough anymore?”

What are your impressions of the Kuduwave when it comes to time efficiency and patient comfort?

The Kuduwave has just made doing my job so much easier, and I like the reassurance of knowing that I am doing good, accurate work. Now, when I’m seeing my fourth or fifth client of the day, I’m not nearly as tired as I would normally be if I weren’t using the Kuduwave – the device just does the work for me.

Firstly, putting the device on my clients is easy. I'm right there with them, close by, should they need me. There is communication and there is understanding. Sometimes when a client is in the early stages of Alzheimers, the Kuduwave’s automatic testing function really helps. But there often is a point where it all just gets too much for the client. Because I am right there, observing them, I can pick that up, stop the tests and we can continue with, say, Speech Recognition testing another time. These are all aspects of patient care that I would not have been that aware of, had my clients been hidden away from me in a soundbooth.

My clients also often comment on how relaxed they are when we do their hearing tests with my Kuduwave. What’s more, the Kuduwave is light, easy to clean and sanitise, and my clients just really seem to prefer the Kuduwave testing experience.

In the beginning, when I started using my Kuduwave, I did hear rumours that the device doesn't measure up to the soundproofed booth. So, I decided to conduct my own research. I would test a client in my soundproofed booth with my traditional audiometer, and then I would retest them with my Kuduwave. There would be absolutely no difference in the results.

How confident are you that you can trust the test results from your Kuduwave portable audiometer?

One hundred percent. Time and again, my Kuduwave’s test results are exactly the same as when I test clients using my soundproofed booth. The Kuduwave really is an exceptionally accurate device for hearing testing. With the automated testing function, it also eliminates the chances of human error. So, even when I see I have a busy day ahead with several clients that need to be tested, I still look forward to it and feel confident in my work.

Are you aware of any of the Kuduwave’s recent successes?

I have, over time, heard about some of the Kuduwave’s successes, but it was all sort of under the radar, except for the fact that the Kuduwave was chosen by NASA in 2021 to be used aboard the ISS by NASA astronauts. When I heard that, I thought “wow!” I’m so proud of (Kuduwave inventor) Dr Dirk Koekemoer. We’ve had one or two sessions here before, where he was a bit despondent, he couldn't understand why the hearing healthcare community didn't just embrace this incredible device wholeheartedly from the start. So I’m so glad that his revolutionary invention is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Essentially, as an audiometer, the Kuduwave is just a great technological advancement. If it had to disappear from the market, I would really cry (and probably consider leaving the profession altogether!).

Want to try out a Kuduwave portable audiometer for yourself?

To find out how the Kuduwave portable audiometer can transform your own hearing healthcare practice, and help you to work, simpler, faster and more cost efficiently, simply click here to book your demo today. It’s free!

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