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Virtual Reality technology is a computer-simulated environment that can recreate sensory experiences and stimulate presence in locations that are from the real world or may be from an imagined world. It has generated tremendous excitement in the healthcare industry where the applications of virtual reality technology extend to psychiatric, training, medical practice, and among other branches of medicine as a part of alternate therapies. Depression & PTSD, surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training are the most common situations where the use of Virtual Reality Technology has proven successful.
Virtual Reality has also proven effective in treating pain by distracting the brain and reducing the need for drugs during painful and physically unpleasant treatments which reduce exposure to strong narcotics and addictive painkillers. Due to the expensive nature of this new technology, it is available in very limited parts of the world, mostly in developed countries. The demand for Virtual Reality Technology for treatments is increasing in healthcare, but expensive hardware, inadequate training of medical practitioners and lack of awareness amongst the patient population are some of the challenges faced by this market. However, the market is lucrative in the developed countries of Europe and North America though the opportunities are huge in emerging economies as the technology is still inaccessible in those countries.
North America has the largest market with 80% market share (2013). The U.S. has the largest share amongst countries with over 75% market share (2013). U.S. market is driven by strong research and development and investment by government and private firm. In the U.S. virtual reality is being widely used in the training and development of healthcare professionals, it is being widely used in the treatment of depression and phobia.