A family tragedy sparked a big idea for a computer program that’s now being used on Long Island and across the country.
Matt Giovanniello, a 25-year-old Rockville Centre native, was 12 years old when his grandmother suffered a severe stroke. As clinicians tried to help her recover her brain function using memory flashcards, Matt thought that there must be a better way, so he made her a PowerPoint quiz instead. Thus the idea for Frenalytics, a gamified computer software program that aims to help people with cognitive disorders relearn facts and rebuild memory function, was born.
“It’s like making lemonade out of lemon, I like to say,” Matt says. “For people as unfortunate as she was, we are now able to create this software to help them.”
Matt and his father, Dr. Anthony Giovanniello, a psychiatrist and neurology expert, teamed up for the project. Anthony, a Frenalytics co-founder and a stroke survivor, helped secure 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 is wonderful to be able to work with my dad, who has firsthand experience, and to be inspired by my family in this capacity,” Matt says.
While they initially targeted the digital learning software to stroke and dementia patients, the pandemic prompted them to push it in school classroom settings for kids with special needs too.
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 reflect answers to personal questions, even to help patients remember the names and faces of their loved ones. In special education classrooms, this same method is used to teach students facts they need to know as part of the curriculum. The program also tracks users’ progress with analytics.
“Patients have been using the software and really enjoying it for the same reason children with special needs do,” Matt says. “It involves family members near and far. Unlike flashcards or worksheets, it’s really easy to see where a patient or student is improving and where they need more help.”
Matt says that the program is also more effective than using hard copies because it uses researched scientific methods that aid memorization. He adds that the software is now being used with Molloy College’s tutoring program for students with disabilities and for patients at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s trauma unit, and that it has also been used in other parts of the country, including schools and facilities in California and Massachusetts.
To learn more, visit frenalytics.com.
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