With expertise in electronic engineering and software development, Dr Thushara Perera develops clinical tools to help optimise and guide treatments for those afflicted with chronic neurological disorders. Much of Thushara’s work is focussed on developing precise instruments to quantify and track patient health. Movement disorder symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, postural instability, and bradykinesia worsen over time and can fluctuate from day-to-day. A clinic visit only allows us to take a snapshot of the patient condition and makes it difficult to determine the best course of treatment. Additionally, clinical trials seeking to establish new therapies often lack monitoring tools to determine efficacy. Thushara is bridging the gap with his healthcare technology which could lead to in-home symptom assessments, similar to monitoring your blood pressure or glucose levels. This technology is currently being used in clinics across Melbourne to trial new therapies for Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. At the Bionics Institute, his instruments are used to inform the development of a next generation deep brain stimulator that can automatically adjust therapy to suit patient needs.

Thushara has also contributed to the Bionic Vision project, developing the Institute’s bionic eye software platform allowing clinicians to send information to the retinal implant. He was part of the team that designed, manufactured and implanted a state-of-the-art bionic eye in Australia’s first human clinical trial. Witnessing the first bionic eye being successfully switched on and restoring rudimentary vision to a blind participant was one of the most memorable moments in Thushara’s career thus far.

Prior to joining the Bionics Institute, Thushara completed his PhD at La Trobe University investigating a novel technique to monitor depth of anaesthesia in young children. He also worked part time as a Biomedical Engineer at the Royal Children’s Hospital redesigning a unique audiometer to test the hearing of children who have developmental problems.

E: [email protected]

Research projects

Improved positioning for DBS (ADEPT device)

Adaptive Deep Brain Stimulation Device (ASTUTE system)

Improved diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (BiRD device)

Students projects

Improving objectivity and accuracy of neuroimaging analysis for deep brain stimulation

Recent publications

  1. Noffs, G., F. M. C. Boonstra, T. Perera, S. C. Kolbe, J. Stankovich, H. Butzkueven, A. Evans, A. P. Vogel, and A. van der Walt. 2020. Acoustic Speech Analytics Are Predictive of Cerebellar Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis. Cerebellum. doi: 1007/s12311-020-01151-5.
  2. Boonstra, F. M. C., A. Evans, G. Noffs, T. Perera, V. Jokubaitis, J. Stankovich, A. P. Vogel, B. A. Moffat, H. Butzkueven, S. C. Kolbe, and A. van der Walt. 2020. OnabotulinumtoxinA treatment for MS-tremor modifies fMRI tremor response in central sensory-motor integration areas. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders. 40: 101984. doi: 1016/j.msard.2020.101984.

  3. Sinclair, N. C., H. J. McDermott, J. B. Fallon, T. Perera, P. Brown, K. J. Bulluss, and W. Thevathasan. 2019. Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease modulates high-frequency evoked and spontaneous neural activity. Neurobiology of disease. 130: 104522. doi: 1016/j.nbd.2019.104522.

  4. Tan, J., W. Thevathasan, J. McGinley, P. Brown, and T. Perera. 2019. An Instrumented Pull Test to Characterize Postural Responses. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE(146): e59309. doi: 3791/59309. Full Text

  5. Boonstra, F. M., G. Noffs, T. Perera, V. G. Jokubaitis, A. P. Vogel, B. A. Moffat, H. Butzkueven, A. Evans, A. van der Walt, and S. C. Kolbe. 2019. Functional neuroplasticity in response to cerebello-thalamic injury underpins the clinical presentation of tremor in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 26(6): 696–705. doi: 1177/1352458519837706.

  6. Lee, W. L., N. C. Sinclair, M. Jones, J. L. Tan, E. L. Proud, R. Peppard, H. J. McDermott, and T. Perera. 2019. Objective evaluation of bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease using an inexpensive marker-less motion tracking system. Physiological Measurement. 40(1): 014004. doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/aafef2. Full Text

  7. Horn, A., N. Li, T. A. Dembek, A. Kappel, C. Boulay, S. Ewert, A. Tietze, A. Husch, T. Perera, W. J. Neumann, M. Reisert, H. Si, R. Oostenveld, C. Rorden, F. C. Yeh, Q. Fang, T. M. Herrington, J. Vorwerk, and A. A. Kuhn. 2018. Lead-DBS v2: Towards a comprehensive pipeline for deep brain stimulation imaging. Neuroimage: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.068.

  8. Noffs, G., T. Perera, S. C. Kolbe, C. J. Shanahan, F. M. C. Boonstra, A. Evans, H. Butzkueven, A. van der Walt, and A. P. Vogel. 2018. What speech can tell us: A systematic review of dysarthria characteristics in Multiple Sclerosis. Autoimmunity reviews. 17(12): 1202-1209. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2018.06.010. Full Text

  9. Perera, T., W. L. Lee, S. A. C. Yohanandan, A. L. Nguyen, B. Cruse, F. M. C. Boonstra, G. Noffs, A. P. Vogel, S. C. Kolbe, H. Butzkueven, A. Evans, and A. van der Walt. 2018. Validation of a Precision Tremor Measurement System for Multiple Sclerosis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 1(311): 377-384. doi: https://10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.09.022.

  10. Perera, T., J. L. Tan, M. H. Cole, S. A. C. Yohanandan, P. Silberstein, R. Cook, R. Peppard, T. Aziz, T. Coyne, P. Brown, P. A. Silburn, and W. Thevathasan. 2018. Balance control systems in Parkinson's disease and the impact of pedunculopontine area stimulation. Brain. 141(10): 3009-3022. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy216. Full Text

Further information

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