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Professional sport and epilepsy - Adam Franks' story



9 February 2018

Adam Franks describes how, with the help of his neurologist, he fulfilled his dream of becoming a professional ice hockey player, in spite of his epilepsy. And he explains how, when his seizures returned, he refused to be beaten but found a new direction for himself in the world of sport.

Adam Franks looks to camera in a grey hoodie and black baseball cap

Ok so where do I begin, I was 11 years old when I had my first fit and to be honest, I can't remember much about that day, all I know is it was the day that changed my life forever.

Growing up with epilepsy was difficult as it was not under control and life became difficult, I wasn't allowed to do certain things. One thing I really wanted to do was learn to play ice hockey; my doctors were not so keen till I met my consultant. He asked me what I wanted to do and I said play ice hockey and he just said "ok let's make that happen".

He got my medication stable and I was allowed to start lessons - after a year of lessons I was ready to join a club. This was not easy as I thought some clubs did not want the responsibility till I found one that said yes. I was in the Guilford Flames junior program and when I was 18 I was asked to represent the first team and play a professional game for them. I went on to play eight professional games for them.

Adam Franks is skating holding a hockey stick, in a helmet and ice hockey gear

Adam in action playing for the Guilford Flames

I then joined the Basingstoke Buffalo where I was part of the first southern team to win the league, playoffs and playoff champions in the same year, a record which still stands today. Not bad for someone who was told he would never play.

Life was going well and I was five years fit free when my seizures came back; I lost my driving licence, my confidence and shut myself away. Then I came up with an idea to start my own business selling my own sportswear for professional athletes and gym goers.

Adam Franks sits on a red chair looking to camera, with his sportswear logo and slogan behind him

Managing business and epilepsy is hard. You can't push yourself so hard as you get tired easily, but I found a way to balance the two. The business was going well till I had a fit in August 2016; this time it was different as I was behind the wheel of my truck. I was very lucky to end up in a bush as it could have been so much worse. I was at my lowest point but I refocused my energy in my business and have built a successful sportswear company. I have three offices and a small team of staff and I have just got my license back.

Things are looking good for 2018.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Epilepsy Society.