What is PIOMI?

PIOMI is a 5-minute oral motor intervention that results in earlier feeding readiness, increased feeding efficiency, and significantly shortens the transition time from tube feeding to full oral feeding, thus decreases their length of stay. The therapy provides assisted movement to activate muscle contraction and provides movement against resistance to build strength in the perioral area of premature infants.

PIOMI Mission Statement

Using PIOMI, Dr. Knoll seeks to globally educate NICU staff and parents in oral motor therapy to improve premature infant oral feedings and reduce hospital stays.


Brenda Lessen Knoll



Brenda S. Lessen Knoll received her B.S.N. at Illinois Wesleyan in 1989. In 1995 she earned her M.S. as a Maternal-Child Community Nurse Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Neonatal Science from UIC in 2008. 


In addition to her tenured Associate Professorship at Illinois Wesleyan, Dr. Knoll continues generating new research in preterm infant oral motor therapy, and reviews for several peer reviewed scientific journals in the fields of Neonatal Nursing, Pediatric Nursing, and Therapy. She provides in-person and off-site training for PIOMI at healthcare agencies internationally, including offering live Webinars for education and for training.  A Train the Trainer course is also available. Dr. Knoll has a background as a registered professional nurse in a level IV NICU, and has worked in Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Home Health. Her administrative positions include Nursing Care Management and Clinical Education Coordinator, as well as serving on medical center community advisory and philanthropy boards.

Honors & Memberships

Dr. Lessen Knoll is a member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Academy of Neonatal Nurses, the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrical and Neonatal Nursing, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In 2012 Dr. Knoll received the Illinois Board of Higher Education Nurse Educator Fellowship Award. She serves as the Chair of the OSF Community Advisory Board, and on the OSF Quality Safety & Service Council at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, and is a founding member of Women Empowered at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation. She was nominated for the JOGNN Best of Writing 2020 for her published research on the effects of PIOMI in a Thai NICU. She continues to present work and consult with researchers around the world. 

• PIOMI in the News •

"Thank you again for your patience with us and for finally bringing your fantastic program to LVHN Reilly Children’s Hospital!  Everyone I talked to was impressed with your research and excited about starting PIOMI."

Wendy Kowalski, MD

Medical Director NICU

Lehigh Valley - Reilly Children's Hospital