ABOUT US

Quality Product  |  Family Owned

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Dr. Erich Luschei, PhD

Founder & Advisor
Dr. Erich Luschei, PhD founded IOPI Medical LLC (fka IOPI Northwest LLC) in 2001. He developed the IOPI while a professor in the speech department at the University of Iowa in 1992. Erich specialized in research on the neurophysiology of oral motor control. After being President of the company for 17 years, he now performs the role of Advisor.
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Dr. Tara Hart, PhD

President & CEO
Dr. Tara Hart, PhD, has been the CEO of IOPI Medical LLC since 2010 and President since 2018. She has a PhD from the Department of Environmental Health from the University of Washington. She is also Dr. Erich Luschei's daughter and became inspired by the global potential of the IOPI device after she joined the Board of Directors. She has been instrumental in developing the new Series 3 product line as well as establishing IOPI® as a global brand. In her spare time she enjoys anything active, particularly escaping to the mountains.
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Amy Temple

Chief Operating Officer
Amy Temple is the Chief Operating Officer of IOPI Medical. Amy has a background in public relations, working with a variety of technology companies. Prior to IOPI Medical she was an account manager at Velvet PR in London, UK. Previously she held positions at Hoffman Europe and Inferno Communications working on clients such as Microsoft, Axis Communications & SolarWinds. When not in the office Amy enjoys spending time with her friends and family at their aptly named Deer Cottage.
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Mallory Rauch

Biomedical Engineer & Quality Manager
Mallory Rauch is the Biomedical Engineer and Quality Manager of IOPI Medical. She is a 2016 graduate of the biomedical engineering program at Rochester Institute of Technology where her coursework included instruction in the development of biomedical devices and project management. Mallory enjoys travel and is looking forward to many future adventures.

Quality Policy

IOPI Medical is committed to designing, manufacturing, and marketing high quality instruments that are reliable, safe, and easy to use by health professionals working with patients with oral motor problems affecting swallowing and speech. IOPI Medical strives to provide excellent customer service throughout the lifetime of its products, including technical advice about the device, its uses, and relevant research. IOPI Medical’s policy is to implement a quality management system and processes to meet the regulatory requirements and standards where IOPI Medical products are sold.

Company History

Dr. Erich Luschei founded IOPI Medical LLC (fka IOPI Northwest LLC) in 2001. Dr. Luschei is President of the company, his wife, Nancy, is Vice-President, and their daughter, Tara Hart, is the CEO. In 2011, the company became certified to ISO 13485:2003 under the Canadian Medical Device Regulation and the IOPI System became CE marked.

Invention History

Initial steps

As the result of a question posed by a fellow faculty member, “can you think of a way to measure the strength of the tongue in children?” Dr. Erich Luschei began experimenting with various transducers in 1988. Methods based upon strain gauges applied to various “beam” substrates had been used effectively in the laboratory of other scientists to measure tongue strength, but they did not seem easily adapted to widespread clinical measurement, particularly for children. One of the problems of using a strain-gauge based system to measure the strength of a push with the tongue is that the “beam” whatever its shape, needs to be a rather rigid material having some degree of “spring” to it. In this case, the tongue, a soft complaint tissue, comes into contact with the edge of the rigid beam or its appurtenances, e.g. a “cradle” attached to the strain gauge beam. Dr. Luschei discovered, in experiments using himself as the subject, that no matter how the strain gauge “beam” was shaped, the interface between the tongue and its contact with the edge of the strain gauge beam was always painful, or at least uncomfortable, during a maximal strength effort with the tongue. This was significant because, if the response was painful, one would be measuring pain tolerance rather than strength. A painful response would be particularly critical when testing a child. This observation, along with other problems with using a strain gauge system, led Dr. Luschei to try to think of other approaches to the problem, and it occurred to him to measure the pressure created in a small, compliant bulb when it is pushed against the roof of the mouth with the tongue. It is unusual to use pressure rather than force to measure strength, but it is to be remembered that “strength” is a concept, not the method that is used to measure it.

IOPI design and first tests

Dr. Luschei began to work with Professor Donald A. Robin, a faculty colleague, at this stage of the IOPI’s development. Dr. Robin suggested that it would be possible to measure tongue endurance as well as tongue strength by measuring how long a subject could sustain a tongue pressure of 50% of their maximum pressure. Dr. Luschei then developed an electronic circuit that would measure tongue strength and endurance while, at the same time, would be portable and easy to use by someone not familiar with electronics. Dr. Luschei built several of these units and Dr. Robin began to use them with students and normal volunteers of various ages and gender. These measurements established that the measures of tongue strength, in any one person, were very reliable (repeatable), and the maximum tongue strength and endurance compared between different people, while variable, showed a clear central tendency.