Thursday, 28 July 2016

Wessam Bou-Assaly - The Medical Benefits of Playing Tennis

As a physician who happens to like tennis a lot, Wessam Bou-Assaly has a very clear idea about the potential physiological benefits of playing the sport.

Sport Science Stats

The USTA (United States Tennis Association) funded some very interesting studies, one of which found a very clear link between the frequent practice of the sport and a reduced chance for sudden cardiac arrest. Those who play tennis at least 3 hours a week at moderate to high intensity, could reduce their risk of suffering sudden cardiac arrest by as much as 50%.

A Potentially Brain Stimulating Exercise

Tennis is an intense game that requires participants to stay alert at all times, as well as to think tactically. This could lead to new nerve connections in the brain, which is otherwise a well-documented phenomenon

Being Competitive Burns More Calories 

Playing competitive tennis (which doesn’t equal professional tennis) burns more calories than a lot of other exercises praised for their ability to work the body. These exercises include but are not limited to: aerobics, skating and even cycling.

Tennis Players Tested

Dr. Joan Finn did a study at the Southern Connecticut State University, testing various subjects and comparing their mental state based on different criteria. According to the results, tennis players – on average – were more optimistic and had a higher self-esteem than those who did not play the sport.
Wessam Bou-Assaly is a radiology expert who loves to exercise whenever he has the time, with tennis being one of his favorite sports.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Wessam Bou-Assaly on “The Championships”

As an avid tennis fan who loves to follow the game as much as he likes to play it, Wessam Bou-Assaly appreciates the special sporting event that the Wimbledon Grand Slam is every year. When asked to pick the best, most prestigious one out of the four Grand Slams, most people usually mention Wimbledon, and they probably have very good – and valid – reasons to do that.


For starters, Wimbledon is the oldest out of the four, having been founded in 1877, four years before the US Open. While its age is important, that’s not the only reason for this distinction. The other – and probably more important – is its status. Until the 1924/1925 season, Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam tournament. It was only that year when the other three tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, and US Open) have joined Wimbledon in the rankings, starting a new era in tennis.

Played on Grass

There is just something majestic about grass. Maybe it’s the fact that grass courts are – by far – the rarest out of all surfaces. There are not a whole lot of grass courts around the world, certainly not if we go by professional standards.

The Location

The fact that it is played in London, often in the courtesy of one or more members of the royal family, doesn’t hurt its case either. Even the Queen has attended the tournament in recent years, several decades after her previous visit which took place in 1977. As a big fan of the game, Wessam Bou-Assaly appreciates the role that Wimbledon plays in the tennis world.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Wessam Bou-Assaly: Disc Disease and Radiology



Disc Disease and Radiology

          Wessam Bou-Assaly, MD


The intervertebral discs are spongy cushions elements, formed by strong connective tissues that separate the vertebral bodies of the spine. These have many important functions including shock absorption, stability of the vertebral column and giving the vertebrae pivot points for its movement.


A disc is made of two parts: the annulus fibrosis, an elastic outer shell and nucleus pulposus, a jelly-like central content.

With age and with certain types of pressure the annulus fibrosis can be damaged and the nucleus bulge through it.

Risk Factors:


Some people are more susceptible to disc problems than others. Risk factors include:
-Poor muscle tone
-Lack of exercise.
-Cigarette smoking
-Advancing age
-Poor posture
-Incorrect lifting techniques.

But often, there is no recognizable risk factor present.



The symptoms of disc problems vary according to its location, its severity and its compression on the adjacent structure, mainly the spinal cord or nerve roots. Many people with disc herniation on MRI have no symptoms.


Symptomatologic disc problem complains may include:


-Back pain with or without radiation down the legs.

-Worsening pain associated with bending over or sitting down for a long time.

-Pain associated with activities like coughing or sneezing.

-Numbness or pins-and-needles in an arm or leg.


-Loss of bladder or bowel control.



Diagnosis is of course suspected during taking medical history and when performing physical examination.


Radiology plays crucial role in diagnosing disc problem. The X-ray, even though limited in visualizing and evaluating the intervertebral disc, can shows signs of degenerative changes in the spine, which can be associated with underlying disc disease.


Signs of degenerative changes on X-Ray includes disc space narrowing, endplates sclerosis and presence of osteophytes.

MRI is the modality of choice in diagnosis disc degeneration and its effect on adjacent structure such as spinal cord and nerve roots.

MRI can precisely evaluate the type of herniated is material.


1- Diffuse disc bulge: Herniated disc tissue "circumferentially" (50–100%) beyond the edges of the vertebra. It is not considered a form of herniation.


It could be Symmetrical:

Or Asymmetrical:

2- Broad based disc herniation: Herniation between 25% and 50% (90 –180°) of the disc circumference.

3- Focal herniation: Involves less than 25% or 90° of the disc circumference.

Focal disc herniation versus Broad base:

Focal disc herniation can also be classified as protrusion or extrusion, based on the

shape of the displaced material.


Protrusion is present if the greatest distance, in any plane, between the edges of the herniated disc material beyond the disc space is less than the distance between the edges of the base, in the same plane.


Extrusion is present when, in at least one plane, any one distance between the edges of the disc material beyond the disc space is greater than the distance between the edges of the base, or when no continuity exists between the disc material beyond the disc space and that within the disc space.

A sequestration is present when there is discontinuity between the herniated disc material and the parent disc

Wessam Bou-Assaly, MD is a Neuroradiologist. He has many years in experience in medical Imaging fields.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Wessam Bou-Assaly on Learning to Play the Piano

Wessam Bou-Assaly is an avid enthusiast of classical music who enjoys playing the piano whenever he can get the chance to do so. Piano is a popular musical instrument because it offers people a glimpse into what it would be like if they could really play it. But what does it take to get to an at least intermediate level?

Ease Your Way Into it
The ability to play fast requires an enormous amount of skill. In the beginning, playing at a slower but more concentrated pace can really help in memorizing patterns and learning different tunes. Speed cannot really be forced. It will come on its own when your skill level is high enough and the muscle memory kicks in.

Full Concentration

Daniel Barenboim, one of the best piano players in the world, often mentions concentration. Not just any kind either, but the type that requires all of your willpower. Half an hour of spirited, concentrated effort can prove to be more valuable than five hours of procrastination interrupted by occasional surges of creativity. Practice does not require anyone’s genius, only their maximum effort.

Master Short Passages
Mastering the piano is not about learning songs. Just because you can play a song at a high level – or even perfectly - doesn’t mean you can play the piano. Short passages are good because they engage your brain, allowing it to absorb the knowledge more efficiently, building muscle memory in the process.

Wessam Bou-Assaly has managed to master the piano at an intermediate level.