A family tragedy generated a great idea for a computer program that is now in use on Long Island and across the country.
Matt Giovanniello, 25, of Rockville Center, was 12 when his grandmother had a stroke. While clinicians tried to help him recover his brain using memory flashcards, Matt thought there had to be a better way, so he gave him a PowerPoint quiz. That’s why the idea for Frenalytics, a gamified computer software program aimed at helping people with mental illnesses re-learn facts and rebuild memory function, was born.
“Like making lemonade from lemon, I like to say,” Matt said. “For people who are as unfortunate as him, we are now able to create this software to help them.”
Matt and his father, Dr. Anthony Giovanniello, a psychiatrist and neurology expert, collaborated for the project. Anthony, a Frenalytics co-founder and a stroke survivor, helped obtain a patent for their product in its early stages. Matt, Anthony, and their friend, Chris Patterson, are co-founders of the company and co-inventors of the patent.
“It was great to work with my dad, who has personal experience, and to inspire my family in this capacity,” Matt said.
While they initially targeted digital learning software to stroke and dementia patients, the pandemic prompted them to push it into school classroom settings for children with special needs as well.
Frenalytics asks the patient basic questions such as “What year is it ?,” “Where did you grow up ?,” or “Choose the image of your home.” Family members or caregivers can customize the program to show answers to personal questions, even to help patients remember the names and faces of their loved ones. In special education classrooms, this same approach is used to teach students the facts they need to know as part of the curriculum. The program also tracks users ’progress using analytics.
“Patients use the software and really enjoy it for the same reason that children with special needs do,” Matt said. “It includes family members near and far. Unlike flashcards or worksheets, it is easy to see where a patient or student is progressing and where they need additional help.
Matt says the program is also more effective than using hard copies because it uses researched scientific methods that help with memorization. He added that the software is now being used in Molloy College’s teaching program for students with disabilities and for patients in the trauma unit at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and that it is also being used in other parts of the country, including the schools and facilities in California and Massachusetts.
To learn more, visit frenalytics.com.
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