Clandestine Media Group

Cutting the Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury on the Battlefield

From Special Operations Forces under fire to SWAT teams responding to an incident on the street, defense and law enforcement operators need to have complete confidence in their personal protective equipment (PPE). As well as being rugged, reliable, and deploying the most advanced technology available, an operator’s PPE must also be as comfortable, mobile, and lightweight as possible. This is particularly true of the ballistic helmet; which operators may be required to wear for extended periods in challenging environments.

The helmet system is comprised of an external hard shell; an internal liner and suspension system to achieve a customized fit and minimize head acceleration and deceleration. Internal pads provide impact protection and comfort, and the retention device (such as a chinstrap) keeps it all in the correct position. The helmet’s purpose is to protect against a range of ballistic threats and also to help reduce the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI).


The average U.S. warfighter carries at least 60 pounds of gear, with an extended patrol often double that weight. Every component and accessory increases the load, which is particularly felt when added to the helmet. “We often hear the old adage that ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain,” says Bill VanMullekom, Executive Vice President of D3O, LLC. “Hence the critical need to drive weight out of every element of the helmet system.”

Every component of a helmet is optimized to enhance the safety of its wearers. Understanding the end user’s environment enables those involved in the supply chain, such as 3M, to push the technology envelope on design and manufacturing. They then work with their industry partners, such as D3O, to explore enhanced impact protection.

“The geometry and mass of a helmet’s accoutrements can affect its blunt impact protection and comfort,” adds David Jackson, U.S. Defense Program Manager at D3O, who has more than 25 years of defense experience. “Also, impact energies are increasing. As we move from the requirement for a helmet to resist an object with an impact speed of 10 feet per second to 14 feet per second and beyond, it’s vital that the helmet shell and suspension pads work together.”


Current and future defense and law enforcement personnel will benefit from innovations in materials, geometries and design, combined with new manufacturing equipment and methodologies.

“We have found ways to lay the suspension pads in the helmet to increase the number of contact points with the head, thus maximizing comfort,” says Bill VanMullekom of D3O.

The outcome, believes Jackson, will be helmets offering maximum protection at the lowest weight and with the greatest possible comfort: “D3O has the proven capability to adapt products to end user needs so they can focus on the task at hand, enhancing survivability and enabling the successful completion of the mission.”


Curt Caruso, a 25-year veteran of the USMC, knows first-hand the importance of head protection while in the field. “Being in the military, protection is vital for us. Having confidence in the protection we have, whether it’s a helmet, plate carrier, protection in the elbows and knees, everything like that does help enhance our motivation, our confidence to go in. As technology advances, it is saving more and more lives. All it does is build confidence in you and make you do your job a lot better.”

Hear more of Caruso’s story in D3O’s InsideOut video:


As of 2020, the General Services Administration (GSA) has approved three D3O TRUST (Trauma Reduction Unrivaled Shock Technology) solutions to be sold through its online shopping and ordering system, GSA Advantage. Valid for 23 years, the contract via D3O partner TSSi enables federal, state, and local government entities to easily and conveniently purchase D3O TRUST products amongst others at pre-negotiated terms and conditions.

D3O TRUST solutions for defense, law enforcement, and tactical gear are tested and trusted in some of the world’s harshest environments. Available in seven and nine pad configurations, the TRUST Nimbus and TRUST Stealth helmet pad systems are designed to comfortably fit the wearer’s head shape while providing high-performance deceleration under blunt impact. TRUST Nimbus is the most recent and lightweight helmet pad system from D3O, exceeding the required level of protection at 10ft/sec by 50% in a polyethylene shell and 39% in an aramid shell.  

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