Years of work by South Side High School student Matthew Giovanniello were recognized on a national level last week when he was named one of 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search competition.
Giovanniello’s report is titled “A Novel Approach for the Assessment and Individualized Treatment of Brain Injured Patients Using Proprietary Computer Algorithms.” In layman’s terms, he created a computer program that can help patients of brain injuries manage and treat their illness. His was one of 1,794 projects submitted. As a semifinalist, he will receive a $1,000 reward.
The idea was planted when Giovanniello, now a 17-year-old senior, was in seventh grade. His grandmother suffered a massive stroke and was left completely paralyzed, unable to speak and barely able to comprehend things.
“As I saw her working with a therapist, they were using flash cards to retrain her,” Giovanniello said. “Teach her what a house is, what a dog is, boy, girl — things like that. I found her pushing the flash cards away, as if she wanted nothing to do with them and they weren’t helping her.”
His grandmother was computer savvy, so Giovanniello created a PowerPoint for her with pictures of her family, her house and other things that she would recognize.
“When I put a computer in front of her to reintroduce her to it, ‘this is the thing you’ve been using for many years,’ she responded to it,” he said. “And before I knew it, she’d tap on the right picture and be able to say stuff to me to respond.”
Over the years, Giovanniello’s program grew. He continued making programs for his grandmother, as well as expanding his original focus beyond helping stroke victims. Giovanniello and his family have spoken to a patent lawyer and are working on creating Gray Matter Technology to trademark his work.