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Dr. Cardenas

Research Interests







Contact Information:


The Miami Project
to Cure Paralysis


1095 NW 14th Terrace


Locator Code R-48


Miami, Florida 33136



Tel:  (305) 243-9516
Fax: (305) 243-4650


Home > Our Research Faculty > Diana Cardenas, M.D., M.H.A.



Professor and Chair, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

Chief of Service & Medical Director,  Department of Rehabilitation Medicine



Pain Interventions and Prevention of UrinaryTract Infections


Research Interests


The goals of my research are to help find therapeutic interventions that improve recovery, reduce secondary conditions, and create a better life for persons with SCI and other conditions that impair physical or cognitive function. Currently, I am working in the following areas:


1. Neuropathic pain: I have been collaborating with researchers from the University of Washington on pain studies for more than a decade to try to improve our medical management of pain. I conducted the first randomized clinical trial on the use of a tricyclic antidepressant, amitriptyline, for chronic pain in persons with SCI. In addition, our Seattle group surveyed hundreds of patients and found that while many treatments are tried for pain in SCI, few are helpful. Many persons seek alternative medicine treatments which lead us to study self-hypnosis. Since moving to Miami in 2006, I have begun to collaborate with Eva Widerstrom-Noga, DDS, PhD (see Faculty) on studies of the underlying changes that may occur in the brain in persons with pain and SCI using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.

2. Neurogenic bladder management: I am currently completing a study to determine if hydrophilic catheters reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in persons with SCI who manage their bladder with intermittent catheterization. This study has involved 16 centers from the US and Canada. Despite the improvements made in the area of bladder management, many persons with SCI still have problems with recurrent UTIs. Future studies are being planned.

3. I am also collaborating on a study being conducted by Dr. Edelle Field-Fote on hand and arm function in persons with tetraplegia. The interventions include massed practice activities along with somatosensory stimulation, somtosensory stimulation alone, or conventional resistance training. (See Dr. Edelle Field-Fote for a description of the research conducted by her and her team.)


SCI Model System


The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has recently received a Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems grant of more than $2 million over 5 years from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Department of Education to conduct research, provide model system of care and broadly disseminate education and research finding to consumers and professionals.  The grant acknowledges the excellence in clinical and research activities in spinal cord injury that we provide at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial  Hospital.  Only 14 sites in the nation are designated as Model Systems centers in a highly competitive selection process that occurs every 5 years.  Research will include a longitudinal study of shoulder pathology after acute spinal cord injury  (SCI) and a randomized controlled trial for shoulder pathology and pain in chronic SCI.  The Principal Investigator is Diana D. Cardenas, MD, MHA, Professor and Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Co-PIs are Larry Brooks, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation, and Mark Nash, PhD, Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery.  Learn More



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