Blunt force trauma is severe trauma caused to the body or head with the sudden introduction of a blunt instrument used with great force.

This can sometimes be caused by an attacker striking with their hands, a large piece of wood, a baseball bat or other such item that would cause considerable damage to the body or skull.

Worldwide, a significant cause of disability and death in people under the age of 35 years is trauma, of which most are due to blunt trauma.

Blunt abdominal trauma (BAT) comprises 75% of all blunt trauma and is the most common example of this injury.

A Hidden Killer

Injuries from blunt force trauma are not always visible. A great number of individuals who die from this condition do so because of the internal injuries they have received, which may result in nothing more than some exterior bruising.

Depending on the point of impact, blunt trauma can result in contusions, abrasions, lacerations, internal haemorrhages, and bone fractures. These injuries do not always have to be present to prove that blunt force trauma has been the root cause of death.

This is because of the differences in the varying areas of the body relating to softness of tissue and mass of bone.

For example, a person might be beaten or receive a heavy blow to the chest but may die quickly because of a cardiac arrest, or although attacked with the same level of force, it could result in a ruptured spleen, which can be fatal if not treated but is not as immediately identifiable.

Flexible vs Rigid Armour

Any type of flexible body armour made from either Kevlar®, Dyneema®, Twaron® (or similar materials) do not offer anywhere near enough protection from this specific operational risk and the blunt force trauma protection required or set by all international body armour standards are very basic at protection levels of 24 joules.

PPSS Stab Resistant Body Armour have smashed the VPAM blunt force trauma testing, coming out at 100 joules providing a blunt force protection level of W5.

Today, the risk of being punched, beaten, kicked, or faced with someone throwing something at you is higher than being stabbed or shot, and most of the body armour issued to domestic homeland security professionals offers insufficient protection.

This is something which is raised at nearly every meeting I attend and where I speak to operational staff. Yes, there are knives, needles, and other weaponry to deal with but most report that they have been assaulted by being punched, kicked, thrown to the floor, or hit with something.

Knowing the Limitations of Your Armour Against Blunt Force Trauma

While presenting at a security online webinar for front line security professionals I questioned:

Does your armour protect against knife, spike, needle, and blunt force trauma?

Out of those questioned 55% of people did not know what protection their vests provided and 19% replied No.

It is essential that everyone wearing body armour knows the capabilities of the equipment they are wearing.

With the rise in knife crime but crucially the types of spike weapons we are now seeing and the fact that a security professional is most likely to be assaulted through blunt force trauma, the wearer should be properly protected.

As an absolute minimum requirement, knife, spike, and blunt force trauma resistant armour needs to be worn. 

Please also read our CEO's article: "'Spiked Weapons: Are You Protected?'

Stay safe.

- Colin Mackinnon, Technical Director