Darren Morton on CHIP set

Is this the world expert on stitch?

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Wall Street Journal names Avondale academic as “most-published authority”

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

The first published review of literature has seen The Wall Street Journal name an Avondale academic as the world’s “most-published authority” on the stitch.

Darren Morton on CHIP set

Dr Darren Morton on the set of the Complete Health Improvement Program. Credit: DEC Creatives.

The article by Kevin Helliker, a senior writer and editor on the journal’s New York sports desk, discusses the “medical mystery” of the stitch but relies, as its expert voice, on comments and research by Dr Darren Morton, a senior lecturer in the School of Education. “Kevin had been frustrated,” says Darren, whose doctorate is in human physiology. “His sports medicine contacts seemed to know nothing about the condition.”

Darren’s research shows the stitch—or exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), the now accepted scientific term Darren proposed in 2000—afflicts about one in five participants in a typical distance race. “It’s a prolific phenomenon,” says Darren, and one he found afflicted not only runners but other athletes, too. “In his view, this cast doubt upon conventional scientific wisdom about the stitch—that intense aerobic exertion restricted blood to the diaphragm, causing it to spasm,” writes Kevin in his article.

Since that first peer-reviewed article in 2000, Darren has published 12 additional articles on ETAP. In the first review of the literature, published in the journal, Sports Medicine, in September, Darren included a table showing only 14 studies produced new or significant findings over the past 100 years. Of the 14 studies, four were published before Darren was born and eight of the other 10 were his. The most recent study before Darren’s first in 2000 appeared in 1951. “It presented plausible research that suggested you couldn’t do anything about the stitch, so I think everyone just went ‘Oh, OK,’ and just gave up,” says Darren.

The mystery for Darren is that those in the exercise community show more interest in his research than those in the medical and scientific communities. His explanations: perhaps it is because ETAP does not cause death or injury and is only fleeting or because clinicians and scientists care more about what alleviates ETAP—even Darren is now developing and testing a product, a nutritional agent you take with a drink, that may prevent ETAP.

“Perhaps I’m overzealous,” says Darren, “but then I remind myself of all the athletes who’ve suffered stitch in the past year. I’m doing this research for them.” He calls this the so-what factor. “Our sophisticated physiological experiments are actually contributing to alleviating a really common aliment.”—with Linden Chuang, assistant editor—digital, Adventist Record