Acclaim Hearing Center’s founder, Walter Otto Ph.D., BC-HIS, is a well-rounded audiologist. He helped protect people’s hearing when he worked for the Navy, and taught the next generation of hearing healthcare professionals as a faculty member at four different universities and the Navy Aero-space Medicine Institute. Now that he is in private practice, he is focused on helping hearing-impaired people improve their hearing.
“Humans are social creatures and the majority of us survive on human interaction of which hearing and communication are a big part,” he said “Hearing loss robs us of that.”
Dr. Otto said he became interested in hearing healthcare when he was pursuing a speech pathology degree in college. When he took a required audiology course, he was drawn to the natural blend of behavioral and physical sciences and “everything clicked.” After working for someone else for a few years, he founded the hearing center almost 12 years ago. The two locations in Las Vegas and one in Pahrump specialize in hearing devices, amplifications and their accessories.
“It’s nice to be able to hear music, birds and environment, but we make a jump into hearing aids for the most part because we want to be able to carry on a conversation with our spouses, grandkids and those who are closest to us,” he said.
Dr. Otto said his favorite part of being a healthcare professional is “seeing the countenance of someone light up when we give them back their hearing” and knowing “they can listen in a relaxed fashion instead of straining.”
The most challenging part of the job is when he’s working with someone who has only come in because a family member has insisted. “We have to lead them through the process that life can be enjoyable for them as well as for those around them.”
Dr. Otto said the Golden Rule is the underlying principle in Acclaim Hearing Center’s patient care philosophy. “We aim to treat people the way we want to be treated ourselves. We listen before we diagnose so we understand each patient’s challenges and needs, then tailor a solution to what they specifically need.”
To help overcome the stigma of wearing hearing aids, Acclaim Hearing Center tries to build friendships with area physicians so they’ll feel comfortable referring their patients. “When physicians refer, it knocks down some natural barriers,” he said.
Dr. Otto believes digital hearing aids are the most significant advancement in hearing technology since he’s joined the field. “We could always make sounds louder, but we would also hear the paper crumpling and the dog barking. Now that we can pull speech out of background noise it really improves the experience that people have.”
“It may be a cliché but we typically don’t appreciate something until we lose it,” he said. “The healthy ear has tremendous dynamic range. When we bring back hearing and subtle sounds like the brushing of hair or the rustle of our clothes as we dress, it can really have a “wow effect” and bring back fond memories.”