Movement disorders in MS: Tremor characterisation and treatment

  • Group Leader

    Dr Anneke van der Walt
    T: +61 3 9342 7000
    Location: Melbourne Brain Centre at RMH, Level 4 C, ROyal Melbourne HOspital, Grattan St. Parkville VIC 3052

Project Details

Tremor, or arm shaking, can affect up to 60% of people with MS and no established treatments are available.  The Living with MS group is conducting a randomized controlled, double-blinded, study of the efficacy of botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injections for MS tremor using technology developed by the Bionics institute, University of Melbourne.  The group is interested in brain network changes and this is being studied using advanced functional imaging paradigms in collaboration with neuroimaging scientists at the University of Melbourne. Part of this work focuses on determining what factors can predict a good repsonse to Botox injections so that the people who will benefit the most can be selected while those who will not benefit as much can be prevented from unecessary interventions and side effects. The group is interested in speech abnormalities in MS and is collaborating with the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Melbourne to test novel technology that can measure subtle changes in speech patterns. The goal of this work is to develop an understanding of the relationship between changes in speech patterns and future disability in MS, particularly cerebellar problems.


  • Mr. Daniel Merlo, Research assistant  
  • Dr. Thushara Perera, Biomechanical engineer
  • Dr. Gustavo Noffs, Research Assistant  
    Dr. Camille Shanahan, Neuro-imaging scientist


  • Dr Andrew Evans, Movement disorders Unit, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne
  • Dr Thushara Perera, The Bionics institute, Universoty of Melbourne
  • Dr Scott Kolbe, Neuro-imaging group, Melbourne Brain Centre, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Adam Vogel, The Department of Audiology and Speech pathology, University of Melbourne
  • Prof. Mary Galea, The Department of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne
  • Prof. Helmut Butzkueven, MS Research Unit, Box Hill Hospital
  • A/Prof David Darby, Behavioural Neurosciences, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health


  • This team is funded by the NHMRC for their work in Tremor in MS. The Botox for the MS tremor study is provided unconditioanlly by Allergan Australia.  
  • The msreactor project is being supported by the MS Research Unit, Eastern Health as well as Novartis through an unconditional research grant.

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Outcomes

  1. Van der Walt A, Buzzard KA, Sung S, Spelman T, Marriott M, Butzkueven H, Evans A. The occurrence of dystonia in upper-limb multiple sclerosis tremor. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2015, vol 21.(14) 1855.  
  2. Van der Walt A, Sung S, Spelman T, Marriott M, Kolbe SC, Mitchell PJ, Evans A, Butzkueven H. The efficacy of Botulinum Toxin Type A in the treatment of disabling MS Tremor.  Neurology 2012; 79 : 92–99.

Research Publications

  1. Van der Walt A, Stankovich J, Rubio J, Foote S, Bahlo M, Van der Mei IAF, Taylor BV, Kilpatrick TJ, Butzkueven H. Heterogeneity at the HLA-DRB1 locus does not influence multiple sclerosis disease severity, brain atrophy or cognition. Multiple Sclerosis 2010; 17(3): 344-352
  2. Van der Walt A, Marriott M, Kolbe, S, Gresle, M, Butzkueven H, Kilpatrick TJ.  Neuroprotection in multiple sclerosis: a therapeutic challenge for the next decade. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 126 (2010) 82–93
  3. Van der Walt A, Stankovich J, Rubio J, Foote S, Bahlo M, Van der Mei IAF, Taylor BV, Kilpatrick TJ, Butzkueven H.  The ApoE polymorphism does not predict MS severity, cognition or cerebral atropy. Neurology 2009; 73:1018-1026.
  4. Van der Walt A, Kolbe SC, Mitchell PJ, Wang Y, Butzkueven H, Egan GF, Yiannikas C, Graham S, Kilpatrick TJ, Klistorner A. Parallel changes in structural and functional measures of optic nerve myelination after optic neuritis. PLoS ONE 2015

Research Group

MS and Comorbidities Team

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

Unit / Centre

MS and Comorbidities Team