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About Brenda S. Lessen

Dr. Lessen has published her pilot study on the Premature Infant Oral Motor Intervention (PIOMI), which she developed for use on premature infants who are only 29 weeks gestation (approx. 2 pounds). The intervention is a sequential series of 8 steps that target the tongue, palate, cheeks, and lips to "train the brain" to key a
neuromuscular response to touch and pressure within their mouths, thus preparing them for future bottle feeding.
The infants who received Lessen's PIOMI learned to completely bottle feed 5 days sooner than controls, and were thus discharged almost 3 days sooner. The PIOMI required no equipment (other than a person's pinky finger) and only 5 minutes to administer. The fidelity (reliability) of the intervention was tested and published, establishing it as a tool with a sound training program and 98% reliabilities among users.
There are training materials (including video) on how to implement the PIOMI and do reliability testing on the PIOMI available through Dr. Lessen. The disseminating of Dr. Lessen's work through presentations and publications has sparked worldwide interest
by clinicians to use the results of her research in clinical practice; the
ultimate goal of an interventional nurse researcher. Interest has been
particularly strong outside her discipline in the arena of speech language pathology. Dr. Lessen has responded to requests for
training on the PIOMI from 28 medical centers across 10 countries.
With fidelity of the intervention now established, it was appropriate to answer the call of clinicians, researchers, and academics to disseminate the PIOMI for either continued research or direct implementation at the bedside. Dr. Lessen spent one year
working with a professional media team including a producer, videographer, audio engineer and graphic designer to produce print materials and film a training DVD. The DVD demonstrates
the techniques of the PIOMI step by step on a live preterm infant.
Dr. Lessen has returned to the production studio multiple times to film narration in front of a green screen, film close-ups of
her hands working each step, approve edited sections of the film, and approve voiceovers done with additional scripts she wrote for voiceover artists. This resulted in 7 published and copyrighted (2012) media collated into a training bundle: a professional
instructional DVD (TwinStar Media, Inc., 2012); a “Trailer” of the DVD; two versions of the PIOMI instruction tool (a professional version and parent version); a Quick Reference Guide; and a Reliability Checklist.The current clinical trials include an expansion of the sample size, training parents to implement the PIOMI on their own neonates, and expanding to multiple sites, adding global sites in Isreal, Brazil,and Thailand.
Dr. Lessen is a member of the OSF St Joseph Medical Center Community Board, the OSF Quality, Safety and Service Council and a member of Women Empowered, OSF Foundation.
For more information on PIOMI, or to inquire about the documents/media below, please contact Dr. Lessen.
Premature Infant Oral Motor Intervention (PIOMI) Instructional DVD: Twin Star Media Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012

Premature Infant Oral Motor Intervention (PIOMI) Instructional DVD TRAILOR: TwinStarMedia Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012

PIOMI Premature Infant Oral Motor Intervention, Twin Star Media Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012

PIOMI Premature Infant Oral Motor Intervention [Illustrated Version], Twin Star Media Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright2012
PIOMI Reliability Rating Tool, Twin Star Media Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012

PIOMIQuick Reference, Twin Star Media Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012
PIOMI Quick Reference for ID Badge, Twin StarMedia Group, Bloomington, IL. Copyright 2012


Present Associate Professor in Nursing, Illinois Wesleyan University

Curriculum Vitae


  • N430 Maternal and Newborn Nursing
  • N450 Leadership and Management
  • Gateway 100 Controversies in Women's Health
  • H370 Women's Health

Contact Information

Illinois Wesleyan University
School of Nursing, STV 220
P.O. Box 2900
Bloomington, Illinois 61701
309) 556-3279


Articles (3)

Press (1)

Presentations (1)

Research abstracts (3)