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Concha Audiology opens its fourth office in North Liberty

The art of listening to improve hearing

By Jen Moore
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY- It’s the stories that Dr. Del Concha values most, in not only his practice, but also his life.
Every day he works with patients, many of them older, who have experienced significant hearing loss, and every day he gets to hear what he calls their “amazing” stories, just because he is the person that gets to sit and listen.
“Everybody you meet has a story that is going to influence you,” Dr. Concha said. “But if you can’t hear them or they can’t hear you, you’re not going to able to listen to their stories.”
In particular, he remembers his grandfather, whom he fitted with a hearing aid in 2000. Because the technology was so far behind where it is today, toward the end of his life, Dr. Concha’s grandfather still experienced significant hearing loss, so much so that he still couldn’t hear the questions Dr. Concha continued to ask.
As part of the Pueblo Indian tribe, which had no written language, there were many traditions and practices that needed to get passed down orally, and many of them were lost when his grandfather died.
“All I could do was sit and wait for him to say something because I couldn’t ask him any more questions,” Dr. Concha said. “That was really, really hard because he had a lifetime of stories to tell and I didn’t get them all.”
He feels a kindred spirit with his elder patients in particular because, despite the generational gap, he experienced the same kinds of hardships they did. Growing up on a reservation in New Mexico, he didn’t have electricity or running water. He relates to them, because he’s lived their lives.
In his culture, respecting, listening to, and caring for elders was considered incredibly important. Whether it was gathering wood, getting water, or just listening to them, life was about giving. Now he continues that tradition, just a little differently.
“Out here, the giving is helping people keep up their quality of life through hearing,” he said.
Dr. Concha opened his North Liberty practice at 1295 Jordan St., Suite 4, in December. He originally had an office in Coralville for 14 years, but faced issues with accessibility and a deteriorating building. He made the decision to move to North Liberty after realizing how much easier it was for his patients, many of whom live in Solon and surrounding areas, to get to the growing community.
Originally from Albuquerque, he and his wife moved to the area so he could attend school at the University of Iowa. Concha had planned to major in business, but he took a speech pathology course as an elective, and switched his major after seeing the kind of effect this work had on people.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology, he earned his masters degree, and later his doctorate, in audiology. He has been practicing since 1997.
Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing impairment for people of all ages. They also look at the general health of patients in order to create successful, long-term plans for them. Dr. Concha uses equipment like a soundproof booth and Real Ear Measures, which measures sound going into the ear. These are staples in the field of audiology and, in his opinion, are a must for any kind of treatment.
He also stresses to prospective patients the importance of being informed, whether it is about the qualifications of their audiologists, suggested treatments, or the projected costs, including any fees.
In his words, his practice tries to “keep it simple” for patients, offering what he feels is the best treatment within their budget. He educates clients on reasonable expectations for their issues and then does his best to deliver.
However, he also knows that it’s up to the individual when it comes to making the most of their treatment
“Patients…have a choice to make. There are very few side effects to hearing aids,” Dr. Concha said. “If you put them in and wear them all the time, you hear better, if you take them out, you’re back to where you started.”
But amazing advancements in technology have made living a normal life that much easier for those with hearing loss. New hearing aids can connect to televisions and cell phones and can change the pitch of sounds so those with hearing loss can pick up noises they haven’t heard in years.
They can even use wireless technology so hearing aids in each ear can communicate with one another. This makes it easier for the user to make the distinction between someone talking and background noise. Previous hearing aids would pick up every noise, almost like surround sound, making it difficult for users to comfortably go into crowded places.
Now, those with hearing aids are more likely to be able to return to their normal lives and do activities they might have once thought impossible. This is one of Dr. Concha’s favorite parts of his work.
He recalls patients that had stopped playing music who picked up their instruments again, or students who once had issues in school and are now getting college degrees. And there are those who are simply able to enjoy time with their family when they couldn’t before.
Being able to listen to and properly communicate with others, said Dr. Concha, is so much of human life and is one of the most important factors in keeping a good quality of life.
“If you have vision, you have objects,” Dr. Concha said. “But when you have hearing, you have people.”