Thompson cleared for contact, could be nearing return

EVANSTON, Ill. — Race Thompson’s second season at Indiana hasn’t developed as planned.

But the redshirt freshman forward could be nearing a return to the floor after spending the past 10 weeks under concussion protocol.

Thompson participated in warmups prior to Tuesday’s game at Northwestern, joining his teammates for their pregame routine for the first time since early November. It’s the latest step in Thompson’s ongoing recovery, and one that could lead him back into Indiana’s playing rotation before long.

“We’ll see,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “Race has been cleared for the first time for full contact. He’s participated in our last few practices. It’s been about 10 weeks where he hasn’t done anything — I don’t mean ‘done anything’, but obviously from an up-and-down basketball, five-on-five (perspective), he just started with that. He wasn’t going to be available to play (on Tuesday).”

Thompson has appeared in only one game to date, playing four minutes in IU’s Nov. 9 win over Montana State. Two days later, the Minnesota native suffered a concussion during an on-court collision in IU’s practice. The head injury has kept Thompson out of action for the past two-plus months, though it appears he’s on the verge of a return.

Indiana could certainly use the kind of help Thompson appears suited to provide. Originally, Thompson seemed to be a natural candidate to spell senior forward Juwan Morgan due to the similar frames and skill sets they both possess.

As the second half of the season continues, the 6-foot-8 Thompson may yet find a role to make his own. Miller expects the coming days will illustrate the extent to which he may be able to provide assistance.

“As he continues to practice, we have to just make a decision,” Miller said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if we go with Race here down the stretch if he can help us.”


  1. wow…10 weeks for concussion protocol. Rob Phinisee was not out nearly that long. Chet, what’s the medical take on this? Why the discrepancy?

    1. It is a traumatic injury to the brain. Just saying concussion is barely diagnostic. I mean, it describes what happened but not the extent. You can have a concussion and be better in a few days or you can have damage you never recover from.

      While I selfishly have been impatient for his return I applaud the team doctors for their cautious approach. If he were my kid I would appreciate their caution.

      I think the NFL controversies (and deaths) have played a big role in this type of approach.

      1. Can you have a concussion and be better than you were before the concussion. Shake a few things back together….? Have you heard of the new advances in electroshock therapy where the most minute electronic impulses are targeted to specific areas of the brain to fight things like chronic depression? I think Kitty Dukakis has done a lot of investigation into this topic….after suffering from years of depression and having little positive results from pharmaceuticals(our habitual American tendency to treat everything with a pill).
        Is it possible that mild concussions could send the brain into an electronic reset of sorts…? …wiping away damaging repetitive memories (or overworked synapses) while restoring new connections?

        The body has the capacity to be restorative after injuries/trauma beyond our wildest imaginations…I sometimes wonder if we discount the brain to have some of the same potential?

        1. Actually, one of the primary uses of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is for treatment of depression. I have no idea how widely used it is anymore. They do something similar by inducing insulin shock.

          The ‘reset’ description is not far off base from the therapeutic rationale.

          I have read some studies, as well as knowing 3 MMA fighters (my wife and I train at an MMA gym), who have had a lot of success with hallucinogens, such as mushrooms, with the same therapeutic rationale. Two guys I know claim it saved them from suicide. They all described the effect as ‘rebooting’ their brain. They no longer suffer from the depression they believe was likely a result of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). From what I understand it was a fairly immediate turnaround. Your miles may vary.

          I doubt ECT would be beneficial for a concussion as it is a traumatic injury. Psychological or psychiatric issues would be addressed after the injury healed.

          1. After spending many years in traditional western medicine my experiences have lead me to have less and less faith in pharmaceuticals. I was on statin drugs for years for borderline high cholesterol. Statins break down muscle tissue. They make you feel sore and it is very difficult to build new muscle.

            I thought I was just getting old, tired, and weak.

            It was the statins. A month after I quit I felt years younger. Because the liver makes cholesterol you have to monitor liver function when on them as your liver is desperately fighting the statin drugs and you can suffer liver damage. My cholesterol actually went way down to 160 after I stopped taking them.

            I strongly advise anyone to be very skeptical about statin drugs.

            After being put on one drug after another as I met the check boxes I quit them all and I am healthier and happier. I will take a pharmaceutical if the rationale is reasonable but I have to hear a pretty good argument.

          2. Much about the pathology of mild TBI is not well understood, which the authors say has confounded efforts to develop optimal treatments. However, they note the use of passive neuro-feedback, which involves applying low-intensity pulses to the brain through transcranial electrical stimulation (LIP-tES), has shown promise.

            They do say “cognitive” and “emotional”….but this was only one study I pulled up.
            Noting like rest too….Body needs to rest. Kids/young athletes don’t get enough.

  2. Whiplash may have something to do with it as well…I remember reading(or it could have been on the radio) a study asserting the whiplash motion to the skull after a hit could actually be more damaging than some collisions without the whiplash component. The brain is in free-flow inside the skull…and a violent back-and-forth(especially repeated back-and-forth) is, potentially, more damaging/permanent. Very sad when you think of things like ‘shaken baby syndrome’ deaths.
    There was a theory that football lineman take more “undiagnosed” trauma to the brain(almost like mini concussions) because of repetitive whiplash movements to the brain within very high forces/range of motion(like whacking a bobblehead over..and over…and over). Prize fighters also experiencing the same sort of repetitive trauma during a long boxing career(the sad ending years for Muhammad Ali).

    We concentrate heavily on the ‘singular’ hit…(as we should) but it’s probably the undiagnosed repetitive trauma(the mini violent assaults to the free-flowing brain) where we conveniently ignore the dangers of certain sports/activities.

    1. The motion is something of a ‘whiplash’ but they are two different injuries. Whiplash is a spinal thing.

      What happens inside the head are called ‘coup/countrecoup’ injuries. The initial impact forces the brain into the skull on the side of the impact. The countrecoup injury is the snap back (you could call it a whiplash motion) in which the brain impacts the opposite side of the skull on the rebound.

      This injury is a high force impact injury. It is more likely to be from a dramatic collision than lesser impacts.

      1. Guess I had the terminology wrong….The study I was referencing was likely talking about “coup/countrecoup” as you describe.

        1. But the sort of back-and-forth impact/damage was thought to be, potentially, more damaging to linemen.

          If I can find the article again, I’ll post it for you…

      2. Found it…

        But scientists also commonly believe that this kind of brain disease is caused not only by these severe concussive hits, but also by the accumulation of more minor blows. Consider the image shown above: It is the sort of line-of-scrimmage battle that happens on almost every play in football and does not seem nearly as bad as the concussive hit sustained by the receiver that we showed you earlier. But data from a single game showed that one college offensive lineman took 62 of these smaller blows to the head.

        One Game, 62 Hits to the Head.

        In this chart, we show the G-force data from just 10 of the 62 hits this offensive lineman accrued in a single game. The average G-force, 25.8, is roughly equivalent to what we would see if the offensive lineman crashed his car into a wall going about 30 m.p.h.

        And remember: that was 62 times in a single game. Hits of this magnitude can happen hundreds, if not thousands, of times to college and N.F.L. players during practices and games throughout their careers. The design of helmets — and even the safety design of automobiles — still has a long way to go to protect people from brain disease incurred from severe and not-so-severe hits to the head (courtesy: New York Times).

  3. thanks. I agree with you…I’m glad they are caring for Race. Let’s hope he’s not rushed in too soon, and let’s hope Romeo’s hand is OK.

  4. Absolutely! Safety first, especially with a head injury. But it must have been one very serious blow to the head to require 10 weeks of recovery.

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